MOSCOW, Nov. 25 (UPI) -- Prime Minister Vladimir Putin promised increases in pensions Wednesday large enough to lift all Russian retirees out of poverty.

Putin, speaking at the opening of the All-Russia Pension Forum, said beginning in January the minimum will be 8,000 rubles ($278) a month, ITAR-TASS reported.

"Poverty among pensioners will be fully eliminated," Putin said. "Pensioners whose overall income is lower than the minimum subsistence level will be entitled to a social benefit."

About 5.7 million elderly are in that bind, he said, most of them living in areas with a high cost of living, including Siberia, northern Russia and the Far East.

Putin acknowledged pensions were to have been increased in 2008.

"It was bad luck that the world crisis broke out then. It was not our fault. We could not do anything about it," he said.