Russia will no longer include free cigarettes in its food rations for servicemen but will compensate by providing them with candy, a top general said Thursday.
"We are no longer buying cigarettes for the armed forces and are replacing them with caramel and sugar," Lieutenant-General Dmitry Bulgakov was quoted by news agencies as saying.
He specified however that Russia was not banning smoking in the military.
"Naturally, if a soldier wants to smoke we can't forbid this. But now he'll have to buy cigarettes in stores," Bulgakov said. "If you want to smoke, then smoke. If you don't want to smoke, eat candy."
Bulgakov also announced defence ministry plans to provide military officers who work mainly indoors or in hot climates with new uniforms, including socks that let feet "breathe" and shoes "of high-quality leather."
However, after being issued a complete uniform kit at the start of service officers will afterwards have to purchase new uniform components themselves, albeit from special military stores open only to officers and their families.
The decision to introduce updated, higher-quality uniforms to Russian military personnel was made in 2007, which were scheduled to be issued this year.
However, while a few units have received new uniforms -- notably those that marched on the May 9 Victory Day parade on Red Square -- the project has been delayed due to defence ministry budget cuts.
Defence chiefs now planned to phase in the new uniforms over the next two to three years, Bulgakov said.
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