President Putin: Servicemen's Wages Should Exceed Those Of State Employees'

Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated that servicemen's wages should exceed those of state employees' by 25-30%. Answering the question asked by a Russian fleet officer from Murmansk (a Russian city behind the Northern Polar circle on the Barents Sea coast,) the President confessed that in 2001, "the state authorities have only covered servicemen's bonus debts. The bonus was introduced last year for those who serve in the North and Far East. At the same time, the Russian President stated that the particular conditions bonus would also be increased by 20%, from 50% to 70%, since January 1, 2002. In addition, the so-called "commanders'" payments will be increased by 10-15%. This primarily refers to middle-ranking officers, starting from regimental commanders and lower. According to Putin, "generals' payments will also be increased, but to a considerably lesser degree." The President said that "a considerable increase of servicemen's real incomes will take place" on July 1, 2002, approximately by 40-60 %. Putin believes that "the main problem" is to provide servicemen with accommodation, and the "effectiveness" of steps taken to solve it, is insufficient. There are approximately 90,000 commissioned, non-commissioned and petty officers without accommodation. "Only 13,800 servicemen received flats" this year, additional funds were allocated in December to house another thousand. For comparison, Putin stated that in 2000, only 8,000 servicemen received flats. He also stressed that the increase in wages would coincide with cancellation of a number of servicemen's privileges, in particular, in the spheres of taxation and accommodation. Privileges concerning travel expenses to the place of deployment and vacation will remain intact. In addition, pensioners will enjoy all privileges they have the right to in line with the Law on Veterans. The President said that he had instructed the government to "immediately develop and implement a mechanism which will allow to apply the general rule to both servicemen and state employees."

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