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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Nemtsov Starts Handing Out Army Housing

First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov on Wednesday handed out the first batch of government certificates that would provide desperately needed housing to retired army officers, Itar-Tass reported.

Housing assistance to retired officers is "one of the most important programs in Russia, which is being personally controlled by President Boris Yeltsin," Nemtsov said at the presentation ceremony in the central Russian city of Tver, according to Itar-Tass.

With authorities trying to cut the bloated Russian army, many officers find themselves without dwellings following retirement, and career soldiers often live in barracks or even tents.

The new program, approved by the government earlier this year, would cover 210,000 families of servicemen, including 160,000 families of retirees and 50,000 families of those who are to retire due to army reform, officials have said.

Some 50,000 of the certificates will be issued this year, Nemtsov said. The first batch, presented Wednesday, went to officers discharged from units in the Tver region, 160 kilometers from Moscow.

Certificates are expected to cover 80 percent of apartment purchase costs, limited to a norm of 18 square meters per person. The recipients also would be entitled to long-time bank loans to cover the remaining costs.

"This is a unique and very expensive program, and the money earmarked for military reform will be spent mostly on social needs, including the housing certificate program," Nemtsov was quoted as saying.