The streets of Moscow flowed with demonstrators on Sunday. Thousands spent the day protesting Vladimir Putin’s proposition that the retirement age in Russia be raised from 60 to 65 for men and from 55 to 63 for women. The rally was organized by the Libertarian Party, according to Reuters. Those in attendance chanted a number of anti-Putin slogans, including “Putin is a thief” and “away with the tsar,” both slogans that have become popular at such events.
Sunday’s rally was not the first of its kind. Numerous protests against the increase in retirement age have taken place since Putin’s intention was first announced in June. A drop in the Russian president’s approval rating coincided with the announcement.
Sunday’s protest took place about a mile and a half from the Kremlin and drew an estimated 6,000 people. The source of that count is an NGO called White Count that tabulates attendance through the use of metal detector frames. Russian police placed their estimate at a considerably lower 2,500. White Count estimated that over 12,000 attended similar protests on Saturday.
The proposed age increase is part of a budget package intended to improve the financial condition of the Russian government. The increase would not happen all at once, but rather would happen a little at a time starting next year. It is backed by lawmakers, but opposed by about 90 percent of the Russian population, according to a recent poll. One online petition against the change has over 3 million signatures. Among the signs sighted in the protests was one that read “stop stealing our future.”
Putin once promised not to increase the retirement age and has sought not to associate himself with the current proposition. He said earlier this month that he was not in favor of any proposals currently being considered, but added that, although he thinks increasing the retirement could be put off for sometime, it would eventually need to be a serious consideration. He urged objective thinking about Russia’s current financial situation.
“We have to proceed not from emotions, but from the real assessment of economic conditions and prospects of its development and (the development of) the social sphere.”
The Hill reports that while Russians oppose this proposal and other aspects of Putin’s domestic policies, he has received mostly positive reactions to his performance at the recent Helsinki summit he held with President Donald Trump.
Vladimir Putin has served as president of Russia since 2012. He held the position previously from 2000 to 2008. He has also served as Prime Minister of Russia – once from 1999 to 2000, and again from 2008 to 2012. Putin also served as acting president when President Boris Yeltsin resigned and worked as the chairman of the United Russia party during his second term as prime minister.