Hard-up Ukrainians waltz away their woes

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KIEV (Reuter) - Nearly 250 Ukrainians, ignoring the economic crisis which has cast millions into poverty, have paid dollars 500 ( pounds 340) each to attend a glittering New Year's Eve Viennese ball. Natalya Kovalyova, of Radio Rox, one of the ball's sponsors at Kiev's ornate opera house, said only five tickets wereunsold. President Leonid Kravchuk was to be among those attending.

Inflation in Ukraine is 70 per cent; the average monthly salary is 300,000 karbovanets ( pounds 7). 'We have to cultivate a national elite,' said Anatoly Mokrenko, director of Ukraine's national opera.