Putin’s reputation is not bulletproof, as Russia pension outcry reveals


In a uncommon tackle to the nation, Putin took to the airwaves to defend the deeply unpopular new proposal to boost the retirement age, a measure that has dented his reputation and spurred requires protests.

“The conclusion is obvious,” Putin mentioned. “The lively working-age inhabitants is lowering, together with {our capability} to pay and alter pensions for inflation. Subsequently, modifications are needed.”

It was a buck-stops-here second for Putin, who mentioned the nation “will inevitably face critical demographic issues” by the following decade if there usually are not modifications to Russia’s retirement system.

However the speech additionally underscored that Putin’s reputation is just not bulletproof.

Putin, who has dominated political life in Russia for 18 years, has loved sky-high approval rankings, and his confrontations with the West usually shore up his home political help. However Putin is just not a Teflon President on the subject of home coverage issues.

Protests within the streets

The federal government’s proposal to boost the pension age prompted uncommon road protests, with demonstrators taking to the streets earlier this summer season to specific their opposition to the federal government proposal to reform the pension system, a legacy of the social security web Russia inherited from the Soviet Union.

Putin’s approval rankings, routinely hovering round 80%, dipped in July to 67%, impartial pollster Levada-Middle discovered.

Putin, who had beforehand been on the file opposing any tweaks to the pension system, initially distanced himself from the proposed modifications. The federal government of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev rolled out the package deal of laws on the identical day as the beginning of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, successfully burying the dangerous information amid the fanfare of the event.

In his Wednesday remarks, Putin renewed the case for the proposed reforms, however outlined a lot of measures to melt their influence. Amongst different measures, Putin referred to as for elevating the retirement age for girls to 60 from 55, as a substitute of to 63.

A woman holds a poster protesting an increase in the pension ages from the current 60 to 65 for men and from 55 to 63 for women during a rally in Moscow on August 21.

“It isn’t proper” to boost the pension age for girls by eight years, Putin mentioned. “In our nation there’s a particular angle to ladies, a caring one. We perceive that they not solely work at their most important place of job, they often run the entire home, caring for the household, elevating youngsters and fussing over their grandchildren.”

It stays to be seen if that revision will fulfill Russians. A proposed five-year improve in retirement age for males, to 65, stays intact. The common Russian male life expectancy is 66, in line with the World Well being Group.

In his speech, Putin partly blamed the rising burden on the pension system on the post-Soviet financial collapse of the 1990s, when Russian beginning charges dropped. The Russian chief in contrast the “demographic collapse” of the late 1990s to the influence on inhabitants progress brought on by World Conflict II.

Critic arrested

Aleksei Kudrin, a former finance minister who heads Russia’s audit chamber, praised Putin for providing a “balanced, fastidiously thought-out resolution” that made needed revisions to the unique proposal.

The federal government could also be eager to reverse the influence of long-term inhabitants decline, however it additionally seems to need Russians off the streets. On Monday, a Moscow courtroom sentenced Russian opposition chief Alexei Navalny to 30 days of administrative arrest for organizing an unsanctioned rally within the capital in January.

Navalny had referred to as for nationwide protests on September 9 in opposition to an unpopular authorities proposal to boost Russia’s retirement age, and in an announcement on Twitter that adopted Putin’s speech, Navalny urged his supporters to end up for the protests, which happen on the identical day as native elections in Russia.

“Nicely, if this determination doesn’t appear to you to be ‘balanced and thoroughly thought-out,’ then exit on Sept. 9 to protest in opposition to elevating the retirement age,” Navalny tweeted.

The proposed modifications to the pension system come because the Russian authorities braces for doable new US sanctions that threaten to hit the ruble and the spending energy of odd Russians.

However as soon as once more, these sanctions could not translate to diminished help for Putin: A latest Pew Analysis Middle examine discovered that an amazing majority of Russians — 85% — assume it’s the US that interferes within the home affairs of different nations.

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