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Tatar President Vetoes Decree Curtailing Free Public Transport

Pensioners and others entitled to free public transport in Kazan protest the curtailing of such privileges on January 9.
KAZAN, Russia -- The president of the Russian republic of Tatarstan has vetoed a Tatar government decree that would limit the number of free rides on public transportation for veterans, pensioners, and others who previously had unlimited trips, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reports.

Rustam Minnikhanov's decision on January 13 comes after a mass protest was organized by the Communist Party in Kazan on January 9.

Tatarstan's government ruled in December that the number of free rides on public transportation for retired workers, war veterans, students, and handicapped people should not exceed 30 per month as of January 1.

At least 1,000 people challenged the government decision in the Tatar capital on January 9, brandishing the Communist Party's hammer-and-sickle red flags.

Russian opposition activists from the Yabloko and Just Russia parties also took part in the rallies.

The protesters held signs such as "The Elections Are Over, Is It Time to Rob Us?" and "Free Public Transport for Students!"

Kazan has the highest public transportation fee in Russia, at 18 rubles ($0.60) per ride, while the average salary in the city is 15,000 rubles ($470) per month.

The cost of living in Kazan is one of the highest in the country and is nearly equal to the cost of living in Moscow.

Read more in Tatar here