President Vladimir Putin has instructed Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov to control personally the work over a package of agreements on common economic space of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
At his Kremlin conference with the cabinet on Monday, the Russian president said he had talked to presidents of Ukraine and Belarus (the three leaders attended the Friendship 2004 festival in the Chernigov region, Ukraine, on the border of the three countries). "We discussed common economic space, and our colleagues are ready to complete this work as soon as possible," said Putin.
"I ask the prime minister to control this work personally," said the head of state.
During the conference, Putin also touched upon the government's project to replace privileges with monetary allowances. This issue is now actively discussed in power structures and in society.
In view of abolished privileges, budget allowances to WWII veterans will be raised 20-fold, and to the disabled - ten-fold, the president said at the conference.
"All decisions in this sphere, and also State Duma debates should seek to improve the life of citizens and make the system more socially balanced and fair," said the Russian president.
According to the head of state, he is aware that the government has prepared a package of proposals on the issue, and expressed the hope that "the finance ministry will be ready to implement all these packages with due consideration of the fact that it will require vast funds."
"WWII veterans will receive huge budget allowances which have never been allocated before. They will not be merely raised by two, three, five but 20 times, and the disabled will be getting ten times more money," said Putin. He demanded that the finance ministry get ready for this work."
During the conference, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov said that the government had agreed to the proposal of trade unions to restore the norm of minimal wages in the Labour Code.
Zhukov also noted that trade union representatives had also discussed draft laws on allowances and wages, which the government had submitted to the State Duma.
"The government agrees to trade unions' approach and will introduce relevant amendments," the deputy prime minister said.
Zhukov added that at its next session, the trilateral commission (government, employers and trade unions) "will begin to work on a general agreement for two-three years to regulate relations between the sides."
Within a month, the finance ministry will allocate an additional 9.6 billion rubles ($1 equals about 29 rubles) to normalise the situation with wages' payments to budget sector workers. Minister of Health and Social Development Mikhail Zurabov said this at the president's conference with the cabinet.
In his words, wage arrears to budget sector workers account for about 3% of the wage fund. The arrears have increased due to teachers' holidays, said Zurabov.
"The allocated funds are quite enough to normalise the situation," said Zurabov.
The minister also said that wage arrears had decreased by nearly 115 million rubles in the past week.
"In the next ten days, the situation will be finally resolved," Zurabov said adding that he would be ready to report fully on the issue in ten days.
At the Kremlin conference, Vladimir Putin demanded that Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev offer his proposals on improving the work in the anti-terrorist sphere by the end of the week.
At the conference with government members, Putin said he had given instructions to improve anti-terrorist efforts in view of the recent tragic events in Ingushetia" (a sortie of terrorists left 97 people killed and over 100 wounded in this republic on June 22).
"Neither you nor the FSB or the defence ministry are fully ready yet. I ask you to keep these instructions in mind and submit these proposals to me by the end of the week. We will discuss measures you are proposing," the head of state said to Nurgaliyev.
Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov who attended the conference told the president that the Russian defence ministry had launched preparations for military efforts in Kyrgyzstan.
Exercises will include checks of transport aviation, and combat readiness units and their readiness to be relocated at unfamiliar theatres of war. Moreover, the Russian military and their colleagues from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan will hold shooting practice, the minister said.
Ivanov also reported to the president and government members about the completion of exercises, Mobility 2004. According to the minister, the troops which participated in the exercises will be completely redeployed from the Far East to their permanent deployment.