Russians Protest Raising Pension Age

Protests against pension reform were organized by the Communist Party of Russia ahead of the State Duma session on Monday.

Lawmakers are expected to approve the pension reform bill in the final reading. In Moscow, the protest gathered thousand of people of various ages.

“I think this isn’t a reform, it’s robbery. It can’t be that our country doesn’t have money for its people, the people who spend their whole lives working and paying deductions for their pensions. And then, all of a sudden, they have no money. I think this money just hasn’t been saved by the government, it’s being stolen,” Dmitry Orlov, a protester from Kostroma said.

Several hundred people also gathered in occupied Crimea for what might be the first anti-government protest in the peninsula since it was annexed by Russia in 2014.

“We believe that the authorities are openly lying to us. There are no economic guarantees that this reform will work out well. Moreover, all our experts say this pension reform is a real genocide,” Roman Kieshko, a protester from Sevastopol said.

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

Older Russians fear they won’t 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.

“I’m 30 years old and this is a very serious issue for me because it touches upon my life, my children, my parents who haven’t retired yet,” Sevastopol protester Olha Konitskaya said.

The proposal has put a dent in 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.