Russian police detain hundreds protesting against pension reform, rights group says

Pauline Gross
September 11, 2018

Police officers detain an elderly man during a rally against planned increases to the nationwide pension age in St. Petersburg, Russia September 9, 2018.

Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said police acted "in strict accordance with the law" adding that some were attacked by "hooligans and trouble-makers".

Even without the ads, Russians took to the streets yesterday to protest the pension plan.

"Putin and his government have plundered the budget for the past 18 years", jailed opposition leader and activist Alexei Navalny said ahead of Sunday's protests.

After being amended by Mr. Putin, the reforms envisage raising the retirement age for men to 65 from 60 and to 60 from 55 for women.

Thousands of anti-Kremlin demonstrators have taken to the streets in Russian Federation to protest the government's plan to raise the retirement age in rallies coinciding with regional and local elections nationwide, triggering tense confrontations with police and resulting in hundreds of detentions, according to a rights-monitoring group.

Concessions by President Putin, whose popularity has suffered over the issue, have failed to stem the discontent.

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In Saint Petersburg, a largely young crowd of around 1,000 people shouted "shame" and held signs calling for Putin's resignation. A total of 452 people were detained there, while in Moscow, 43 people were held after authorities had denied an application to hold a rally, the group said. After the bill on the pension reform was submitted to Russia's parliament in June, Putin's approval rating fell from a peak of 74 percent in 2015 to 45 percent on August 5 - the lowest point since 2013, according to Russia's FOM polling agency.

Their compliance with the request also came after Russian Federation warned the company last week that "meddling" in the Sunday elections could result in court action, according to AFP. Social media showed footage of police hitting protestors with batons in Moscow as their colleagues tried to wrench them out of the police's grip.

Sunday's rallies, which had been called by opposition leader Alexei Navalny, were held in dozens of towns and cities across Russian Federation.

Authorities in the capital have organised festivals and food fairs at polling booths to drive up participation and lend legitimacy to Putin ally Sobyanin's next term as mayor. The current life-expectancy for Russian men is 66.

The results had some "rough edges" and they will be dealt with, Putin said during a State Council meeting on Monday in Vladivostok.

While candidates from the ruling United Russia party performed strongly overall, four United Russia candidates running for governor were forced into run-off votes after failing to win majorities.

Other reports by GizPress

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