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Russians Rally Against Pension Reform

Few policies have aroused more fury in recent years than the decision to raise the retirement age.

10 August 2018

The impending rise in the retirement age for Russians has galvanized foes from across the spectrum, from the usual Kremlin critics and to a mixed bag of groups who generally toe the official line.

 

Rallies took place in several cities last weekend against what the mass-market daily Moskovsky Komsomolets called the “most dangerous and risky reform of President Putin’s 20-year rule,” Asia Times reports.

 

The protests attracted Communists, libertarians, labor unions, and supporters of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

 

 

Although Russia has gradually abandoned many perks for elderly citizens, the retirement age has stayed at the levels set decades ago: 55 for women and 60 for men.

 

Faced with a declining population and an aging workforce – pensioners already make up nearly a third of the population – the Kremlin may have decided it was time to bite the bullet, knowing how unpopular the move would be.

 

Even the decision to phase in the higher retirement ages of 63 for women and 65 for men over the next decade did nothing to calm fears, especially among men, that they might not live long enough to see their first pension check. Russia’s male life expectancy is among the lowest in the developed world.

 

Voters may have the opportunity to call for the policy to be reversed in a nationwide referendum, or even three referendums.

 

Election officials have given the green light to referendum drives proposed by the Communist Party, the Moscow branch of the All-Russian Union of Public Organizations for Large Families, and a Moscow mayoral candidate, Meduza reports.

 

A referendum will triggered when one group collects 2 million signatures from at least 43 regions.

 

One online petition against the reform has gathered 3 million signatures in three months, The Moscow Times writes.

 

Navalny this week urged voters to rally against the pension reform on 9 September, when regional elections will take place, The Moscow Times reports.

 

“Raising the pension age is a real crime and the usual robbery against tens of millions of people under the guise of a ‘mature reform,’ ” Navalny wrote on social media, according to Asia Times.

 

Surveys show that 89 percent of Russians oppose raising the retirement age, Meduza says.

 

 

  • The average Russian pension is about $209 a month, according to Meduza. Women make up two-thirds of the 31.4 percent of the pension-age population.

 

  • Russia’s average life expectancy was 72 in 2016, but just 66.5 for men, according to World Bank figures. Some other former Soviet republics recorded similar figures. The figure for the European Union was 81, while the Central European and Baltic region was at 77.

 

  • The UN has estimated that Russia’s population will continue to fall, losing another 11 million people by 2050.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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