Friday 19 October 2018

Thousands rally across Russia against pension age rise

The government’s plan to lift the retirement age to 65 for men and 60 for women has angered a wide range of people.

Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, centre, joins a Moscow rally against raising the pension age (AP)
Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, centre, joins a Moscow rally against raising the pension age (AP)

By Vladimir Isachenkov, Associated Press

Thousands rallied across Russia on Saturday to protest against the government’s plan to raise the eligibility age for retirement pensions by five years.

Several thousand people attended a Moscow rally organised by the Communist Party and other groups, which was authorised by city officials.

Communist Party chief Gennady Zyuganov called for the proposed changes to be rolled back, arguing that the government should redistribute resources to avoid raising the pension age.

“They keep reaching into your pockets,” he told the crowd, which had many waving red flags.

Similar protests were also held in cities across Russia’s 11 time zones and most of them were also sanctioned by authorities.

The demonstrations went on peacefully, unlike a wave of unauthorised pension protests earlier this month organised by opposition leader Alexei Navalny that led to the detention of more than 1,000 people across Russia.

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Alexei Navalny is Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most visible foe(Anti-Corruption Foundation/AP)

Navalny, the anti-corruption activist who is Putin’s most visible foe, had called for protests against the pension age hike before he was sentenced to 30 days in jail for organising a January protest over a different issue.

He is set to be released from custody on Monday.

The government’s plan to lift the retirement age to 65 for men and 60 for women has angered a wide range of Russians from all political factions.

Older Russians fear they will not live long enough to collect significant benefits while younger generations are worried that keeping people in the workforce longer will limit their own employment opportunities.

The proposal has dented President Vladimir Putin’s popularity.

He responded by offering some concessions, but argued that the age hike is necessary because rising life expectancy in Russia could exhaust the nation’s pension resources if the eligibility age remains the same.

Press Association

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