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Russians protest over pension age rise announced during World Cup

World2018-07-02

Russians demonstrated in cities across the country on Sunday in protest at a rise in the pension age. The rallies, organised by an unusually broad group of opposition forces, drew crowds of up to 3,000 in dozens of towns and cities across the country, opposition leaders said.No protests were held in World Cup host cities due to a regulation banning protest in the cities for the duration of the tournament, and also out of a desire not to overshadow it.Russian authorities announced the pension reform on the opening day of the World Cup last month and have been accused of trying to bury extremely unpopular news amid the euphoria of the tournament. The reform would raise the pension age from 60 to 65 for men, and from 55 to 63 for women, over a 15-year period. The average Russian pension is 14,000 roubles (£168).Supporters of the reform say the young retirement ages are a hangover from the Soviet period and are untenable in a market economy; critics point out that life expectancy for men is barely higher than the new retirement age. The protests were organised by a mixture of opposition forces, including the protest leader Alexei Navalny and communist and other “systemic opposition” groups that are usually broadly loyal to the Kremlin.“Let’s say it honestly: Medvedev and Putin raising the pension age is a genuine crime. It’s a simply robbery of tens of millions of people masquerading as a ‘necessary reform’,” said Navalny, whose brother was last week released from prison after serving a 3.5-year sentence widely regarded as politically motivated.Policing at the protests was unusually relaxed, with no reports of police detentions even in cities where the protests had not received official approval.The World Cup has provided a party atmosphere in Moscow and other host cities, with revelling and singing in the streets most nights. It has led some in the opposition to complain that foreigners are allowed to gather with flags in the streets while they are not.In a video posted on social media, a Russian blogger approaches two police officers in a party district in central Moscow asking if they would be able to walk and drink when the World Cup has left town.“If you’re Russian, no. If you’re foreign, yes,” one officer answers, only half-jokingly. “They’ve been allowed to do everything. But our lot won’t be.”(THE GUARDIAN)

Russians demonstrated in cities across the country on Sunday in protest at a rise in the pension age. The rallies, organised by an unusually broad group of opposition forces, drew crowds of up to 3,000 in dozens of towns and cities across the country, opposition leaders said.


No protests were held in World Cup host cities due to a regulation banning protest in the cities for the duration of the tournament, and also out of a desire not to overshadow it.


Russian authorities announced the pension reform on the opening day of the World Cup last month and have been accused of trying to bury extremely unpopular news amid the euphoria of the tournament. The reform would raise the pension age from 60 to 65 for men, and from 55 to 63 for women, over a 15-year period. The average Russian pension is 14,000 roubles (£168).


Supporters of the reform say the young retirement ages are a hangover from the Soviet period and are untenable in a market economy; critics point out that life expectancy for men is barely higher than the new retirement age. The protests were organised by a mixture of opposition forces, including the protest leader Alexei Navalny and communist and other “systemic opposition” groups that are usually broadly loyal to the Kremlin.


“Let’s say it honestly: Medvedev and Putin raising the pension age is a genuine crime. It’s a simply robbery of tens of millions of people masquerading as a ‘necessary reform’,” said Navalny, whose brother was last week released from prison after serving a 3.5-year sentence widely regarded as politically motivated.


Policing at the protests was unusually relaxed, with no reports of police detentions even in cities where the protests had not received official approval.


The World Cup has provided a party atmosphere in Moscow and other host cities, with revelling and singing in the streets most nights. It has led some in the opposition to complain that foreigners are allowed to gather with flags in the streets while they are not.


In a video posted on social media, a Russian blogger approaches two police officers in a party district in central Moscow asking if they would be able to walk and drink when the World Cup has left town.


“If you’re Russian, no. If you’re foreign, yes,” one officer answers, only half-jokingly. “They’ve been allowed to do everything. But our lot won’t be.”


(THE GUARDIAN)


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