Author`s name Pravda.Ru

Hundreds of Ukrainian taxi drivers rally against high gasoline prices

Hundreds of taxi drivers blocked the entrance to President Viktor Yushchenko's office Thursday to protest high gasoline prices and proposed new regulations they say would benefit unlicensed cab drivers.

Taxi drivers from across the country converged on Kiev to complain that fuel is overpriced and to protest a proposed law that increases government regulations over the taxi business.

Gasoline prices are now almost 50 percent higher than at the beginning of 2005, in part due to clumsy government attempts to cap gas prices this spring. The move triggered a fuel crisis in May, sending prices sharply higher and depleting filling stations. The prices, which reflect higher prices worldwide, never recovered.

Taxi drivers, who actively supported Yushchenko during last year's Orange Revolution mass protests, demanded that someone from the president's office come out and meet them to hear their demands; when no one emerged, they left to regroup.

Vasyl Popik, head of Taxi Drivers Trade Union, warned that if the president and authorities do not satisfy their demands, the drivers will rally again.

Drivers said the proposed regulations, which parliament has tentatively adopted, would put licensed taxi drivers at a disadvantage against unregistered cabs. The legislation would also set into motion tougher checks on the vehicles and equipment.

Several hundred taxi drivers also protested in the western city of Lviv and the eastern city of Donetsk, the AP reports.