A hallmark of the administration of social assistance under the socialist regimes in Eastern Europe and the USSR was the universal nature of eligibility for benefits, either to all citizens or to categories of deserving citizens, e.g., the physically handicapped. During the transition period since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation has taken limited steps to improve the targeting of benefits. The challenge to improvement is acute because the administration of the great majority of programs rests with agencies of local government. The question addressed here is how amenable local program administration is to improved targeting and more progressive program administration in general.
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