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    PUTIN: PRESENT LEVEL OF PENSIONS IN RUSSIA IS NOT ENOUGH

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    KIROVSK (Leningrad region), January 27 (RIA Novosti) - The 2004 budget envisages 76 billion rubles to pay out pensions, which is 5.4 times more compared to 1999 ($1 equals approx. 29 rubles now), Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with pensioners of the Leningrad region. The president also confirmed that since the beginning of 2000, the real increase of pensions totaled 82%.

    Putin admitted that it is not enough. We won't increase the pensions' level at once, not to unbalance the country's system of economic development, the president stressed.

    The head of state promised pensioners to discuss all proposals voiced at the meeting at a session of the State Council presidium tonight.

    "After the session, relevant instructions to the government will be formulated and the government will start working on it," Putin said.

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