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Russia honors its soldiers past and present ahead of VDay.
May 5, 2003

Russia is paying tribute to war veterans and young defenders of the Motherland ahead of Victory Day that is celebrated on May 9 in this country.

More than 11 thousand people who became disabled as a result of the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945) will get cars in 2003, Vice-Premier Galina Karelova told reporters on Monday. She said the government has a plan for improving the socio-economic status of the war veterans and those who became disabled in the war.

She said there were 399 thousand disabled war veterans living in Russia at present and more than one million people who had participated in the 1941-1945 war, among whom 799 thousand received benefits equal to those received by the people who had been disabled in that war.

Galina Karelova said an individual card would be filled out by the end of this year for each participant in the war and each disabled individual to enable the government to switch from "the common assistance to the most needy citizens to targeted, customized assistance based on a case-to-case approach. "

The vice-premier noted that most war veterans had two key problemshealth and telephone communication services. She said the government would handle these two problems as a high priority.

She recalled that 30 percent of the telephone services to the disabled war veterans are currently paid out of the federal budget, and there are plans to increase the government share to 40 percent before the end of this year. The vice-premier said, however, that the planned increase "is obviously insufficient, and we are looking for more resources to increase the benefit. "

As regards health services, Karelova said plans had been made for opening small homes for the elderly in rural areas. Each home of this type will accommodate up to ten people, not more. She said mammoth homes for 15 hundred and more people "provide next to no assistance to the elderly people residing in them. "

ITAR-TASS has learned in Grozny that 760 World War Two veterans who reside in Chechnya would receive gifts on Victory Day and special events would be organized in their honor in all districts and localities of the republic. Aide to the Chechen Labor Minister Imran Iriskhanov said the gifts include Oka midget cars that will be given on behalf of the Chechen government to eight veterans on May 9. "A military parade will be organized in Grozny on Victory Day by the republic's military commandant's office and the headquarters of the united grouping of the federal forces," Iriskhanov said. "Regrettably the health condition of our veterans prevents them from marching in the Victory Day parade," said he.

Mr. Iriskhanov recalled that over the past two years, the government of the Chechen republic had given war veterans 83 Oka cars, referred 40 war participants to the Saratov region for treatment and provided a number of them with free spa vouchers.

In Omsk, West Siberia, Governor Leonid Polezhayev handed the keys to brand-new Oka cars to Anastasia Vikulova, 84, and 19 disabled veterans who had been decorated with government orders for their part in the war. The governor recalled that 461 war veterans in the Omsk region had received cars as presents last year.

In the Altai area, the compensation arrears have been fully paid to the WW II veterans after years of delay. Chairman of the territorial social protection committee Alexandra Vashcheno told ITAR-TASS on Monday that all questions related to health building services at spas had been resolved and all the disabled veterans in need of wheelchairs had been supplied with them. Car supplies to the veterans no longer cause tension. Between 400 and 450 cars are provided to them every year, and the waiting list has been reduced to the minimum. According to Vashchenko, these achievements resulted from a five-fold increase since 2000 in the funding provided by the federal center to secure compliance with the Law on Veterans.

In Ulyanovsk, Middle Volga region, the local automobile works, UAZ, has allocated resources to support the local war veterans. A source in the press office of the works told ITAR-TASS on Monday that UAZ Director-General Viktor Klyuchai had issued an order to provide material assistance to 351 ex-servicemen and to the widows of those who had fallen in the war.

The Aeroflot Russian airlines on Monday began to airlift free of charge war veterans and former Nazi prisoners to destinations of their own choice. An Aeroflot official told ITAR-TASS that the passengers of this type are only requested to pay airport dues and other taxes and duties envisaged by the effective rules for air transportation. Free air trips will be available to the veterans within the framework of the "Comrades-in-arms Meet" action until May 25 inclusive.

Free two-way air travels are available to all war veterans who reside permanently in Russia and wish to fly to any destination in Russia or Europe, including the Baltia countries, to which Aeroflot routes exist. If need be, a veteran may be accompanied by a person who is entitled to a 10-percent discount off the air ticket price, if the two tickets are acquired simultaneously.

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