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Protests Of Russian Social Reforms Continue --> (file photo) 22 January 2005 -- Thousands of Russians staged protests today, saying the government should be dissolved for its decision to give pensioners and others cash payouts instead of social benefits.

AFP news agency reported that some 2,500 demonstrators gathered in Moscow for a demonstration organized by the Communist Party. The rally consisted mainly of pensioners but also included many young people.

Russia's RIA-Novosti agency said around 6,000 people turned out for the protest in the southern city of Samara. Another 5,000 people demonstrated in the Ural city of Ufa, in the Republic of Bashkortostan.

It is the latest in a series of demonstrations demanding the withdrawal of Kremlin-sponsored social reforms.

The reforms, enacted on 1 January, give retirees, the disabled, war veterans, and others cash stipends instead of benefits such as free medicine and public transportation.

Earlier this week the government agreed to raise pensions after a series of public protests.