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Russia: Federation Council Rejects Plan to Boost Wages, Pensions

Moscow, August 8 (RFE/RL) -- The upper house of Russia's parliament, the Federation Council, today rejected a bill from the communist-dominated lower house, the State Duma, aimed at increasing sharply wages and pensions.

Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin spoke against the bill. He said it would strain the already stretched Russian budget.

The measure, passed by the State Duma last month, would have raised the minimum wage and pension 25 percent.

State Pension Fund Chairman Vasily Barchuk told federation Council deputies his agency does not have the $3 billion the measure was estimated to cost through the end of the year. He said such a measure would lead to even more delays in pension payments.

Minimum wages and pensions in Russia were last increased in the spring. The 1996 budget calls for modest quarterly increases to keep pace with inflation. President Boris Yeltsin has vetoed past parliamentary attempts to give unbudgeted raises.