People have gathered in thousands in Moscow to protest against the new pension law which has increased the age of retirement despite the rollback by President Putin to soften some of its clauses. Protestors were carrying red flags and banners of the opposition Party which is the chief organiser of the rally.
As per White Counter, a NGO which is involved in counting the number of participants at various rallies, there were around 9000 people while official figures suggest there were only 6000 participants.
Russian media reported banners stating “We do not trust United Russia” was held by the protestors with a drawing of the polar bear logo of President Putin’s party being punched by a red fist. Protests were organised in different parts of Russia under different parties e.g. in Moscow by Just Russia party, Novosibirsk, Vladivostok in Siberia etc.
The proposed legislation to increase the pension age to 65 from 60 for men and to 63 from 55 for women was passed in June and has seen a series of protests ever since. The measure would also have a direct repercussion on the age at which Russians will receive their state retirement pensions. President Putin had taken personal onus for the reform saying it was necessary for maintaining financial stability and that Russians should understand the situation. Following the outcry, President announced the lowering of raised age for women from 63 to 60 during the same speech but made no changes to the raised age of men.
The aim of the proposal was to plug the shortages of workforce and thus lift the economy. Protestors have laid the claims on the pretext that if the proposal is accepted many men will not live to avail the benefits as the average life expectancy of a Russian male is about 66 years. The approval rating for President has had a severe hit since the measure was rolled and has fallen by 10 percent.
Russian economy is passing through a thick phase which has further worsened due to the US sanctions post Crimea annexation in 2014 and a significant drop in oil prices.
Three million people have put their signatures against what is being described as the most dangerous reform of Putin Presidency.