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Russians march against benefits law repeal

[JURIST] Thousands of Russians, many of them pensioners, marched in several major cities Saturday continuing four days week of protests against the Putin government's repeal of a Soviet-era social benefits law and its replacement by a program of minimal monthly payments. Under the old law, formally repealed January 1, some 32 million Russian pensioners, veterans and people with disabilities had received free public transportation and subsidies for housing, prescriptions, telephones and other basic services. The new law, passed by the Russian State Duma in August [Russia Journal report], has abolished these and replaced them with small monthly cash payments starting as low as $7/month. The demonstrations are the largest since Putin became Russian president in 2000 and cloud the prospects of other legislative reforms involving banking, housing and electricity. State legislators speculate that Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov [official profile in Russian] and his cabinet could be dismissed [MosNews report] in the wake of the protests. The New York Times has more. From Moscow, MosNews provides local coverage.

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