Ukraine's communists condemn IMF loan, plan mass protests

KIEV, November 3 (RIA Novosti) - Ukraine's Communist Party accused the government on Monday of burdening the nation with debt and filling the pockets of oligarchs by obtaining a $16.5 billion IMF loan, and announced plans for mass protests.

On Friday, Ukraine's parliament passed a set of laws needed to receive the loan from the International Monetary Fund, as the country struggles to cope amid the global credit crisis.

Communist Party leader Pyotr Simonenko told a news conference that the loan was "for the benefit of oligarch circles, the leadership of the International Monetary Fund, and multinational corporations."

He warned that the debt would harm the economy, particularly ordinary citizens.

"On November 7, we will start mass protests throughout Ukraine under the slogan: 'against Yushchenko and the oligarchs. Give the workers a respectable life'."

The parties led by President Viktor Yushchenko and his former ally Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko backed the legislation for the IMF loan, while the Party of Regions, led by pro-Kremlin ex-premier Viktor Yanukovych, abstained from the vote.

Under the new laws, a national stabilization fund will be set up to help struggling banks repay their foreign debt. The government will also provide more extensive guarantees for deposits in banks.

Anti-crisis measures have met similar criticism in several other countries, as governments hand money to corporations to ease the credit crisis.

In the United States and Great Britain, banks including JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and the Bank of Scotland have come under severe criticism for handing out vast bonuses to their upper management, after receiving taxpayer bailout funds.

In Russia, the country's richest businessmen have received multi-billion dollar state loans to retain their stakes in major companies. Oleg Deripaska is reported to have received a $4.5 billion loan to keep his stake in the world's largest nickel producer Norilsk Nickel, while oligarch Mikhail Fridman's Alfa Group received a $2 billion bailout loan to hold on to mobile phone operator VimpelCom.

Ukraine's economy has suffered both from the global credit crunch and the falling price of steel, the key national export.

The country's stock exchange has lost around 70% of its value, while the national currency, the hryvnia, hit a record low of 7.2 to the dollar last Wednesday.

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