Russian opposition plans major nationwide protests against pension reform legislation

Russian opposition plans major nationwide protests against pension reform legislation

Today, supporters of opposition leader Alexei Navalny gather nationwide to protest Russia’s controversial pension reforms, while Moscow holds local elections.

People attend a protest against a proposed increase of the retirement age in Moscow

Photo: Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin

Today, supporters of opposition leader Alexei Navalny gather nationwide to protest Russia’s controversial pension reforms, while Moscow holds local elections. Similar protests last Sunday drew upwards of 10,000 people in Moscow, and thousands more across Russia.

The new pension program would raise the male retirement age from 60 to 65, and the female retirement age from 55 to 60 over the next 16 years to account for increasing life expectancy. Russians have been unusually critical of Mr Putin’s government over the move, as polls show 90 percent of citizens oppose the reforms. Even President Putin’s perennially strong approval rating has dipped some 10 percent.

Demonstrations intensify even as the Kremlin explicitly banned pension reform protests—indeed, Mr Navalny was sentenced to 30 days in prison for violating protest laws.

While, Mr Putin’s government is in no immediate danger, expect a forceful crackdown in response to today’s rallies, as Moscow is never keen to offer Mr Navalny’s opposition the national spotlight. More worrying for President Putin is the opposition’s potential to build support among the Russian public on other issues, like political freedoms, going forward.

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