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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Fradkov Slams Zurabov Over Social Reforms

Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov on Monday criticized Health and Social Development Minister Mikhail Zurabov for the implementation of sweeping social welfare reforms that have touched a political nerve and sparked widespread protests across the country.

Fradkov's criticism could signal that Zurabov will be forced to resign amid the continuing public outcry, which has unsettled the Kremlin.

The reforms, which went into effect Jan. 1, substitute benefits such as free public transportation with cash payments. Over the weekend, protesters gathered in dozens of cities to lambaste the government and demand reinstatement of the benefits. Pro-Kremlin forces staged massive counter-demonstrations.

Fradkov told a government meeting that the report from the Health and Social Development Ministry on implementing the reform had "shortcomings."

He said there were problems in particular with ensuring adequate supplies of lower-cost medications to outlying regions. "I would like to draw attention to the fact that we have insufficiently close monitoring of how the law is being implemented," Fradkov said.