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RUSSIA

Moscow injects funds to boost jobs

1 min

In an interview on Russian TV, President Dmitry Medvedev (pictured) announced a $1.3 billion aid package aimed at generating jobs in small and medium-sized businesses as national unemployment levels mount.

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AFP - Moscow will inject 44 billion rubles (986 million euros, 1.3 billion dollars ) into creating new jobs, President Dmitry Medvedev said Sunday as Russians reeled from a dramatic hike in unemployment.

The aid package would be aimed at creating jobs in small- and medium-sized businesses, as well as in construction projects, Medvedev said in an interview with the Rossia television channel.

"It could be for roads, or it could be for other infrastructure projects," he said.

Some of the funds will also be channeled into retraining professionals for new jobs, Medvedev added.

The number of unemployed reached 5.8 million at the end of December, according to the Rosstat statistics office.

Officials have said the number of Russia's jobless could rise by over half a million in 2009.

The economic crisis has hit the Russian auto industry particularly hard, with several Russian and Western firms closing production lines for a month over the New Year period to cope with shrinking demand.

Demonstrators took to the streets of Russian cities on Saturday, protesting wide-sweeping job cuts.

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