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    PUTIN EXPECTS SOCIAL BLOC TO IMPROVE SERVICES TO THE POPULATION

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    MOSCOW, March 12, 2004 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Vladimir Putin expects the social bloc of the new Russian Cabinet to organize work more clearly and improve services to the population.

    "I have agreed with the prime minister's initiative to unite the social and healthcare blocs. This is a huge and important sector for us, and the merger is first of all aimed at making efforts clearer and raising the quality of services to the population," the president said to Minister of Health and Social Development Mikhail Zurabov.

    Vladimir Putin emphasized that before his recent appointment, Mikhail Zurabov had headed the Pension Fund. "On the whole, you did your work well," the president said to Mr. Zurabov.

    At the same time, he added, "the scope of your duties has expanded, above all, after the social bloc was merged with the health ministry." The president continued that Zurabov was familiar with this sphere because he had worked as deputy health minister before.

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