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President Putin (file photo) 12 August 2004 -- Russian Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin says the government will increase defense spending by 40 percent in 2005.

ITAR-TASS reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin told a meeting of the country's financial and law enforcement leaders today that Russia is facing increasingly complicated issues of defense that necessitate the rise in spending.

The planned increase is estimated at about $2.4 billion. Speaking at the same meeting, Kudrin said part of the money will go to increasing compensation for Russian soldiers.

Kudrin said new cash payments would compensate the troops for the loss of free public transport privileges and allow raises for soldiers serving in hardship conditions.

(ITAR-TASS/AP/AFP)
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