Russia: January 22, 2005

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There have been widespread, generally peaceful, protests in the past month. These were caused by a new law that replaces long time benefits, like free public transport for pensioners, military personnel and police, with additional cash payments. But many beneficiaries saw the cash payments as too low. In response, the government is increasing police pay 50 percent, and military pay 20 percent. The police increase is also meant to improve police morale, and help cut corruption. The communist era "freebies" have long been a major drain on the economy, as there is enormous waste when there is no connection between a benefit and cost. This wastefulness bred corruption and inefficiency in the civil service, police and military.

 

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