PENSIONS IN RUSSIA INCREASED 9%

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PENSIONS IN RUSSIA INCREASED 9%

Trud, August 2, 2002, p. 1

Pensions in Russia went up by 9% from yesterday. The average pension is now 1,417 rubles a month. The maximum old age pension is 1,746 rubles. The average long military service or survivor’s pension has gone up 103 rubles to 1,248 rubles. At the same time, social pensions have increased by 82 rubles.

The pension indexation spending amounts to 4.072 billion rubles a year. Total costs of the August indexation be 23.6 billion rubles by the end of this year.

However, according to the State Statistics Committee, pensions are still 7.5% less in real terms than before the crisis in 1998. Pensioners eat mainly potatoes and pasta. The fact is that although pensions have increased by 9%, consumer prices have risen by the same amount over the first half of this year.

FINANCE MINISTRY CHANGES ITS MIND

Trud, August 2, 2002, p. 1

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin has said that Russia might refuse to place Eurobonds to the amount of $1 billion next year. He explained the position of the Finance Ministry: 2003 is a high-risk year for any external holdings, because this year will mark the peak of foreign debt payments.

At the same time, according to Kudrin, the Russian government plans to borrow about $700 million on the financial market. He said there has been no final decision concerning the issuing of Eurobonds. The main reserve fund for state debt servicing will be a program of domestic borrowing.

MUSCOVITES WILL HAVE TO LIVE IN SMOG FOR ANOTHER WEEK

Izvestia, August 2, 2002, p. 2

The Natural Resources Ministry has announced the preliminary results of forest fires this summer. More than 20,000 fires have broken out over an area of 600,000 hectares since the beginning of this dry summer. The worst situation is in the Moscow region. Muscovites will have to live in smog for another week. In spite of all the weather forecasts, the situation in Moscow and in its region will not change drastically over the next few days. However, according to the Natural Resources Ministry, there will not be any global disaster. Muscovites are relatively well-off in terms of clean air standards; many people in some large European and American cities have lived for years in polluted conditions similar to those created by the Moscow region’s forest fires.

MINERS DYING IN UKRAINE

Moskovskii Komsomolets, August 2, 2002, p. 2

The fatal frequency with which damages at Ukrainian mines happen leads to the thought the situation with safety measures is as bad underground as in the air.

The latest explosion at the Zasiadko mine in Donetsk led to the deaths of 19 people.

Thirty-seven rescue units are currently engaged in searching for miners underground, extinguishing fire, and clearing away rock masses. They have managed to rescue only one person. There is no knowing of the destiny of another miner.

According to the Donetsk Regional Administration of the State Supervision for Labor Protection, there were 21 people in the explosion area at the depth of 1,076 meters in all, 707 miners were working underground at the moment of explosion. They managed to lead them to the surface.

According to provisional data, the tragedy was cause by neglecting safety measures. Rescuers believe there was an explosion of methane and coal dust.

Over 100 miners have died during the last three years in the same mine in similar circumstances. In all, 186 miners have died at Ukraine’s coal extracting enterprises since early 2002.

OPERATIONS ON THE RUSSIAN-GEORGIAN BORDER

Moskovskii Komsomolets, August 2, 2002, p. 2

For a week, Russian border guard troops have been blocking and destroying a guerrilla unit in Chechen highlands that had broken through from Georgia. Meanwhile officials of the two countries have been exchanging mutual accusations.

It is an open secret that Tbilisi is intensely eager to use the situation in Pankisi to solve the Abkhaz problem. However, this is being done so awkwardly that to call a spade a spade Tbilisi is simply blackmailing Russia. Overall, according to statements by Georgian representatives, the events in Itum-Kali have been developing in a paradoxical way. The Chenchen guerrillas for some reason went from the flatlands to the highlands, got within the view of Russian border guards, provoked their response actions, and got in great mess.

Experience shows, the situation will be worsening until the presidents of the two countries are involved. Oddly enough, only presidents for some reason can agree on things and reach long-expected understanding.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant General Sergei Makarov in command of the unified troops grouping in the North Caucasus issued an order to reinforce checkpoints and activate destruction of militant units. In particular, army aviation was set the goal of taking new reconnaissance groups to the Itum-Kali district and to the border with Georgia. According to the data of the military, 39 guerillas were killed. During fighting with the guerrilla unit, Russian border guards have lost eight people, and five were injured.

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