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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

No Skimping on Cars for Russian Bureaucrats

Russia might be a cash-strapped nation, but its civil service does not skimp on cars for its officials, figures showed Tuesday.

A spokesman for the state traffic police said that last year the number of official chauffeur-driven limousines for top government workers rose by 23,500 to 605,290.

Of this number, 40,000 are foreign cars including Audis, BMWs and Mercedes.

Russia's Trud newspaper said the sums spent by ministries on maintaining transport varied from as much as 20 million roubles ($697,800) a year at the Tax Ministry to 2.2 million roubles at the Atomic Energy Ministry.

"A country which is just pulling itself out of a deep crisis cannot afford such extravagance," the newspaper said.

It said it would be cheaper for the state to raise the salaries of officials so they could drive their own cars, as they do in the United States.

Russian reports also said the number of bureaucrats had grown in Russia since Soviet days, despite a fall in population after the break up of the country. The reports said there were 1.15 million officials in 1980, versus 2.8 million now.

A plan was created under former President Boris Yeltsin to slash the number of expensive foreign limousines in ministerial fleets and force officials to use Russian-made cars, but the action failed.