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    PENSIONS RISE IN RUSSIA

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    MOSCOW, March 1 (RIA Novosti) - From March 1 the base part of the retirement pension in Russia is to increase by 240 roubles - from 660 to 900 rubles ($1 = 27.70 rubles).

    Mass protests against replacement of the benefits by money compensations resulted in Russian President's declaration about the rise of the base part of the pension, and by a larger sum than it had been previously planned. He demanded increasing the base part not by 100 rubles from April 1 but by 200 rubles at the minimum, and from March 1. Vladimir Putin made his statement at the Russian government session on January 17, 2005.

    On February 9 the State Duma approved in third reading the corresponding changes of the law On Retirement Pensions in the Russian Federation which was approved by the Federation Council and signed by the president on February 15.

    As head of the Pension Fund of Russia (PFR) Gennady Batanov said the day before, "the rise of the base part of the pension by 240 roubles will require over 115 billion rubles for the year of 2005."

    He noted that, in accordance with the legislation, the base part must stage by stage come close to the subsistence minimum of pensioners which is now of the order of 2,000 rubles.

    The size of the base parts of all other kinds of retirement pensions is simultaneously increased from March 1. Besides that, the pension to the invalids - participants in combat operations in Afghanistan and Chechnya, who receive pensions from the pension fund, is increased, too. Its increment makes up 720 rubles. The individuals who have lost the breadwinner will now receive 600 rubles more.

    "It is beyond doubt that these payments will begin from March 1," Minister of Health and Social Development Mikhail Zurabov said confidently on Monday.

    But, according to him, there will be no traditional indexation of the base and insurance parts of pensions in April.

    "The second indexation will be carried out from August 1. It will take into consideration not only the inflation rate this year but also the indexation which was scheduled for April 1, 2005," Mr. Zurabov said.

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