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    STATE COUNCIL PRESIDIUM HOLDS SESSION IN ST. PETE, PUTIN CHAIRING

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    ST. PETERSBURG, JANUARY 27, RIA NOVOSTI - The State Council Presidium is holding session in St. Petersburg tonight. President Vladimir Putin has the chair.

    The agenda centres on improving pensioner welfare. In an opening address, President Putin called to think how to provide decent life for seniors now and in future. This is a key duty of a state that dares to say it is socially oriented, he stressed.

    Resolutions of the current session will make a basis for orders to the federal government, which will be certainly implemented.

    Pension arrears have been paid countrywide, with token exceptions. "Pensions were not paid for months on end. That was a shame. We have put an end to it, at last," said the President.

    Average absolute pensions have increased more than threefold within the four preceding years, with a 82 per cent actual increase, though inflation rates remain considerable, and prices are going up, he added.

    The State Council is a consultative body under the federal President.

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