Facing protests, Russia's Putin offers pension concessions

Putin details amendments to soften impact of impending pension system reform

Putin details amendments to soften impact of impending pension system reform

Putin proposed on Wednesday to lower the increase in the pension age for women from 63 to 60 years, while keeping the proposed increase for men at 65 years. Further out, they would end up destroying the economy, which has been battered by years of Western sanctions.

Without increasing the retirement age, Mr. Putin said Russia's pension system "would crack and eventually collapse". The changes are supposed to be raised by one year every year over the course of the next five years.

The reforms were sprung on Russians while most of the country was watching the opening ceremony of the World Cup, hosted by Russia, in June. The issue contributed to driving Putin's popularity rating down to 67 from 80 percent earlier this year, according to the Levada Centre pollster, its lowest since before Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea.

"There is a special, careful attitude toward women in our country", Putin said in a televised address.

The life expectancy for men in Russian Federation is 66.

Putin has refrained from commenting on the subject for weeks, while a widespread outcry over the move began emerging.

Ahead of the planned demonstrations, Navalny was sentenced to 30 days in jail on August 27 for helping to organize an unsanctioned street rally in Moscow in January.

But Putin on August 29 insisted that raising the retirement age for men and women was essential because Russia's working-age population was shrinking.

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Though the proposed changes bring Russia into line with most other countries, many Russian families, especially in rural areas and small towns, are anxious that their household incomes will be seriously dented at a time younger people often struggle to find a stable job.

"Delaying any longer really is impossible", Putin said in his address, adding that "it would be irresponsible and could lead to serious consequences in the economic and social spheres, having a seriously negative impact on the fates of millions of people".

In his speech, Putin voiced other suggestions aimed at softening the blow, including an idea to keep benefits such as tax breaks for seniors even before they reach retirement age. The Associated Press reports that Vladimir Putin has been forced to tone down changes made to a pension reform package after a backlash that has sent his approval numbers below 70% for the first time in years.

Mr. Putin is known for his annual marathon call-in TV shows where he talks to ordinary Russian Federation via video-link and takes phone calls.

For years, Putin has avoided discussing the idea of raising the pension age, a move long advocated by his economic advisers.

He is expected to address the nation as early as today, with speculation mounting that he will weaken the reforms.

Alexei Navalny, one of Mr. Putin's biggest opponents has called for nationwide rallies for September 9.to protest against the reforms.

"This bill can not be improved, in my opinion", party leader Gennady Zyuganov told the Tass news agency, adding that the party is collecting signatures necessary to try to force a national referendum.

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