291 Protesters Arrested in Russia

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Russian police have broken up protests across the country against a planned increase in the retirement age, BBC reports.

The protests were organised by the opposition leader Aleksei Navalny last month, who is currently serving a 30-day jail sentence for what authorities call violations of the law on public gatherings related to the street rallies in January.

From 2019, the retirement age for men and women will start being increased gradually. By 2036, it will have risen from 60 to 65 for men and from 55 to 60 for women.

President Vladimir 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.

In Yekaterinburg, about 500 protesters marched, planning to go along the city’s main street to the city center, but were blocked by police. Arrests took place during the procession and continued at the final location where police circled the people, photographed them and took their names.

Similar protests were held throughout the country.

OVD-Info says 291 people were detained in 19 cities. Yekaterinburg in the Urals has the highest number of arrests, 58 in total.

“What can be the legal assessment of the actions of police officers who were equipped with bulletproof vests, with batons. I even saw police staff with some sort of rifles; They acted against civilians. People came with their children, in spite of the rain, some had umbrellas, and they were surrounded, these people, and were pulled out to buses one by one,” said Vyacheslav Bashkov, co-organizer of the Against Violence Organization.