Fresh protest over Russian pension reform

Fresh protests against raising the retirement age are being held across Russia, after a call by jailed opposition leader, Alexei Navalny.

Pension reforms have caused widespread public anger, and Mr Navalny’s supporters have planned rallies in more than 80 cities to capitalise on this.

Concessions by President Putin, whose popularity has suffered over the issue, have failed to stem the discontent.

Protests have begun in Vladivostok and other cities in Russia’s Far East.

They coincide with elections for 26 heads of Russia’s 85 regions, including in Moscow, which are happening on Sunday.

From 2019, the retirement age for men will be increased from 60 to 65 and from 55 to 60 for women. Mr Putin softened the initial plan to raise women’s retirement age to 63.

Russian men have a life expectancy of 66 while for women it is 77, the World Health Organization says.

Mr Navalny, Russia’s most prominent opposition leader, planned to lead a protest in Moscow on Sunday, but last month a court sentenced him to 30 days in prison for breaking protest laws.

The long-time anti-corruption campaigner has said the series of short prison terms he has faced are designed to disrupt his political activity. He has vehemently denied all charges against him.

Barred from state TV, Mr Navalny was prevented from running against Vladimir Putin for president in March.

“Putin and his government have plundered the budget for the past 18 years,” Mr Navalny’s team said in a statement prior to Sunday’s protests.

“All that time they assured us there would not in any circumstance be a rise in the pension age. And now they are putting it up. The authorities are not listening to people and that means it’s time to take to the streets.”

Mr Putin has said the move to raise the retirement age for men and women had been delayed for years and risked causing inflation and increasing poverty.

Postponing it further would threaten the stability and security of Russian society, he said.

“Any further delay would be irresponsible,” he said. “Our decisions should be just and well-balanced.”

Unions have however warned that many will not live long enough to claim a pension.

Tens of thousands have rallied across Russia in recent weeks and unusually for the country, the issue has drawn protesters from all sides of the political debate.—BBC

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *