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    SAINT PETERSBURG, January 27, 2004. (RIA Novosti special correspondent Natalia Gorbunova) - Russian President Vladimir Putin believes that the situation with pensioners in Russia to some degree improved, but it can't be alleged that everything possible was done for them. This was disclosed by the Russian President at the session of the State Council Presidium, which is held in Saint Petersburg.

    According to him, "the size of pensions is not high enough, the quality and variety of social services are not well developed, and there is still a territorial disproportion in the development across the country of the social infrastructure objects, especially in the rural areas." The Russian President noted that today he discussed with pensioners such issues as the quality of health care, possibility to obtain medicine at reasonable prices, assistance in payments for housing and utilities services and such moral and psychological issues as loneliness and social adaptation to old age.

    In order to settle all these issues Vladimir Putin believes it's necessary to modernize the mechanism of the social sphere financing.

    "Money should be allocated to social departments not only because such departments exist and are listed in the budget, but for the provision of the concrete and proper services," Vladimir Putin said.

    Vladimir Putin proposed to develop and the net and to improve the material and technical basis of social services departments. The closer attention should be paid to the development of the social infrastructure in the rural areas.

    According to Mr. Putin, it's necessary to form full-fledged market of social services, and to actively introduce innovative forms of social assistance.

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