Yes Or No: Is A Referendum In The Cards Over Russian Pension Reform?

Arm and Torso of Person in Brown Sweater Placing Paper Ballot into Ballot Box

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Lyubov Chizhova, Robert Coalson – MOSCOW, August 10, 2018 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/yes-or-no-is-a-referendum-in-the-cards-over-russian-pension-reform-/29426658.html) It has been a quarter century since the Russian government asked its citizens their opinion on anything in a formal national referendum. But a proposed referendum on the hot-button issue of raising retirement ages moved one […]

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Not So United: Russia’s Ruling Party Rattled By Pension-Reform Crisis

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Yelizaveta Mayetnaya, Robert Coalson – August 5, 2018 [Text with links and graphics: rferl.org/a/not-so-united-russia-ruling-party-rattled-by-pension-reform-crisis/29413547.html] Speaking to a riled-up crowd at a July 28 protest against the Russian government’s deeply unpopular proposal to raise retirement ages in Vologda, angry pensioner Nikolai Zharavin didn’t mince words as to who was to […]

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Will Pension Protests ‘Take Down’ Putin?

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(Russia Matters – russiamatters.org – August 2, 2018 – Simon Saradzhyan – russiamatters.org/blog/will-pension-protests-take-down-putin) Simon Saradzhyan is the founding director of the Russia Matters Project at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs This summer’s polls have not been kind to Vladimir Putin and for good reason. The Russian authorities’ drive to raise the country’s pension age has […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russians’ Willingness to Protest is Highest in 2 Decades, Survey Says” – Moscow Times

Moscow Protest File Photo

More Russians are willing to participate in economic and political protests now than in the past two decades, according to a new survey released by the independent Levada Center pollster. Public discontent has spread throughout Russia this summer after the government announced plans to raise the retirement age. The United Russia ruling party saw its approval ratings plummet to seven-year […]

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There is No “Reform” in Russia’s Recent “Pension Reform” Bill | Interview with Evgeny Gontmakher

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(PONARS Eurasia – Maria Lipman, Evgeny Gontmakher – July 26, 2018) [Text of interview here ponarseurasia.org/article/there-no-reform-russias-recent-pension-reform-bill-interview-evgeny-gontmakher] Maria Lipman speaks with Evgeny Gontmacher about the political and socioeconomic implications of raising the retirement age. Gontmacher is the deputy director responsible for social policy projects and recommendations at Aleksei Kudrin’s Committee of Civil Initiatives. Over 1992-2003, he held positions as Head of […]

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Demography Being Abused in Russian Pension Age Debate, Vishnevsky Says

File Photo of Crowd in Russia Including Person Waving Russian Flag with Eagle

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 22, 2018) Both supporters and opponents of the Russian government’s plan to raise retirement ages frequently invoke demographic statistics; but all too often, Anatoly Vishnevsky of Moscow’s Higher School of Economics, they use these figures incorrectly and thus make it more difficult for Russia to solve some of its problems. In […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russian Communists push for a national referendum against raising the retirement age” – Meduza

Arm and Torso of Person in Brown Sweater Placing Paper Ballot into Ballot Box

“Russia’s Central Election Commission has received a notice from the Communist Party about possibly holding a national referendum on raising the country’s retirement age …. [asking] ‘Do you agree that the age in the Russian Federation at which citizens are entitled to old-age social insurance should not increase?’ … the State Duma [has] passed the first reading of draft legislation […]

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NEWSLINK: “What’s Russia’s average pension? How much money will the government save by raising the retirement age? The surprising numbers behind Russian pension reform” – Meduza

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“… $209 is Russia’s average monthly pension, according to the Pension Fund’s January 2018 records … 31.4% of Russians are pensioners. That’s 46 million people ….”  

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NEWSWATCH: “Pension reform” – BMB Russia/Aaron Schwartzbaum

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

“… Russian authorities have been dithering on the pension system literally for year. … [R]egardless of the character of a loss of benefits, pension reform is exactly that: a loss of benefits. … [T[here is another center-periphery dynamic at play …. The average life expectancy has … increased on average … predominantly [for] … middle-class or wealthy urban dwellers. The […]

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Working-Age Russians Now More Pessimistic about Future than Pensioners, Levada Poll Finds

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(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 17, 2018) The continuing stagnation or worse of the Russian economy has “upended the pyramid of social optimism” in Russia, Mikhail Sergeyev says. Instead of older people being the most pessimistic about the future of their country as is typically the case, now working age Russians are. This finding of the […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Civil Solidarity’s request to authorize rally against pension age increase in Sokolniki on Wednesday approved” – Interfax

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

MOSCOW. July 18 (Interfax) – The administration of the park Sokolniki has approved a request made by the movement Civil Solidarity to authorize a public event on the territory intended for a ‘hyde park’ on July 18. The topic of the event is “Rally against Pension Age Increase,” the culture establishment said on its official portal. The rally will have […]

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Governors Back Moscow’s Pension Plan but Seek Exemptions for Their Own People

Russia Regions Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 16, 2018) Caught between the demands of the Kremlin which decides whether they will be in office and the opposing views of their populations that could make their time there easy or difficult, Russia’s governors are simultaneously telling Moscow they support the pension plan but asking it to exempt their own […]

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Pension Fight Highlights Russia’s Fundamental Problem – Its Government, Gontmakher Says

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(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 10, 2018) The fight over Moscow’s proposal to raise the pension age highlights the fact that Russia’s “main problem is a state [which] doesn’t fulfill its functions of serving” the people. Instead, it acts like an enormous corporation that collects rents and doesn’t distribute them in an effective way, economist Yevgeny […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Pension age should be increased in smooth, differentiated fashion – Moskalkova” – Interfax

File Photo of Elders Walking in Russia

MOSCOW. July 11 (Interfax) – The pension age in Russia should not be increased for everyone simultaneously, but for every category of pensioners separately, Russian Human Rights Commissioner Tatyana Moskalkova said. “It seems to me it would be premature to approach all categories of citizens directly in this way, at least bearing in mind the monitoring we have conducted. We […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Pensions in Russia to keep growing after 2024 – Labor Ministry” – Interfax

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MOSCOW. July 9 (Interfax) – Pensions will continue to grow after 2024, but the Labor Ministry is not ready to say at what rate. “We are now calculating everything through 2024, although the calculations undoubtedly cover future periods. We’ll see, it will depend on how we can achieve the current tasks. Without a doubt, we are working on the assumption […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russian Authorities Prepare to Soften Pension Reform-Sources” – Reuters

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“[Sources claim that] Russian authorities are considering ways to soften a plan to raise the pension age … following protests and a slide in … Putin’s popularity ratings. The government announced its plan last month to raise the retirement age for men to 65 from 60 and for women to 63 from 55 to ease pressure on state coffers from […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Almost 90% of Russians oppose raising retirement age – poll” – Interfax

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MOSCOW. July 5 (Interfax) – An overwhelming majority of Russians disapprove of raising the retirement age and believe that the current age is optimal for both men and women, the Levada Analytical Center said in a statement obtained by Interfax on Thursday. Eighty-nine percent of respondents said they do not want to postpone their retirement. The current retirement age for […]

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Russians Rally Against ‘Cannibalistic’ Pension Reform

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(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – July 1, 2018 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/russians-rally-against-retirement-age-increase/29330242.html) Thousands of people have taken to the streets across Russia to protest against the government’s plan to raise the retirement age. Labor unions, political parties, and opposition politician Aleksei Navalny had called on Russians to demonstrate on July 1 against a bill […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Daily says Russian leaders’ ratings drop as they announce pension reform; Yelena Mukhametshina and Olga Churakova: President and premier’s ratings go back to what they were several years ago. Effective discussion of pension reform could halt decline in authorities’ popularity” – Vedomosti

File Photo of Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin with Heads Bowed Over Microphone

Vedomosti reports declining reported polling numbers for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, following announcements of pension reform. According to polling numbers published June 22, 2018, FOM [Public Opinion Foundation] indicates: Putin’s electoral rating fell from 62% to 54% in one week those trusting Putin fell from 75% to 67% Putin performance approval ratings fell from 75% […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Unions want to negotiate with the Duma on pension reform” – Bear Market Brief E-Mail Newsletter

Russian State Duma Building file photo

“The Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia announced yesterday that they want an increase in the pension age to be part of a ‘package’ of labor market reforms … [such as] raising wages and reinforcing the social safety net …. FITUR is, according to Kommersant’s sources, an entrenched part of the All-Russian People’s Front, a coalition led by United […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Union-Led Protests Against Pension Reform Approved in 30 Cities” – Moscow Times

File Photo of Moscow Winter Protest

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – June 26, 2018) Authorities have approved union-led protests against the Russian government’s proposed retirement age hike in 30 cities, including one to be held in a World Cup host city, a major labor union said. The Russian government’s announcement on the eve of the World Cup that it would raise the retirement age has been […]

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World Cup May Have Helped Russia But It hasn’t Boosted Putin

File Photo of Putin Sitting at Desk, Looking Down, Writing, During Call-In Show, adapted from screenshot of video at kremlin.ru

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 24, 2018) Many commentators in both Russia and the West have suggested that the World Cup has helped Russia to overcome much of the opprobrium it has suffered as a result of its invasion of Ukraine, its meddling in elections in Western countries and in general its disruptive behavior. And it […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Live Longer, Work Longer, Says Russian Government; But the plan to raise the pension age won’t go down well with most Russians” – Moscow Times

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – June 18, 2018) A long-shelved plan to raise the pension age risks coming up against a wall of protest, as Russians of all ages cling to their Soviet-era social privileges. Compared to many Western countries, Russians retire early: men at 60 and women at 55. Those who operate heavy machinery or work in difficult conditions […]

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Russians Getting Older, Reducing Pressure for and Likelihood of Change, Pryanikov Says

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 11, 2018) The average age of Russians today is much higher than in the past and will continue to rise in the coming decades, Pavel Pryanikov says; and as a result, the usual source of pressure for change, from members of younger generations, is going to fall, reducing still further the […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Authorities begin process of raising retirement age” – Bear Market Brief E-Mail Newsletter

File Photo of Elders Walking in Russia

“… the [Russian] government may submit a draft bill to the Duma to raise the retirement age. … suggest[ing] the strictest variant: 65 years for men, 63 years for women. … likely follow[ing] MinFin’s proposal of increasing the retirement age by one year annually. …  Several key decisions … What to do with those who qualify for early retirement … […]

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Three Prospective Reforms Likely to Hurt Putin with His Political Base in the Population

Tower and Building Inside Kremlin

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 3, 2018) Vladimir Putin has the coercive resources and elite support to remain in office regardless of whether the population supports or deserts him, but at least some of his power depends on his ability to mobilize his base which consists of government employees, industrial workers, and especially pensioners. At present, […]

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Putin vs. Pensions: Will His Reelection Finally Free Him To Tackle Looming Crisis?

File Photo of Elders Walking in Russia

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Mike Eckel – May 16, 2018 – article also appeared at rferl.org/a/putin-vs-pensions-will-his-reelection-finally-free-him-to-tackle-looming-crisis-/29229857.html) It’s been the third rail of Russian politics for years, if not decades, but now an increasingly fragile economy appears to have forced the Kremlin to finally reckon with the country’s pension crisis. Russia’s pension system — […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Kremlin has big plans for the next five years, and it might need to raise Russia’s retirement age to pay for everything” – Meduza

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“… a leaked copy of … Medvedev’s next five-year budget plan … [anticipates] 25 trillion rubles ($403.8 billion) on 13 ‘national projects.’ … repeat[ing] many of the priorities of Medvedev’s … presidency and … Putin[] … executive orders. [kommersant.ru/doc/3628758] … new roads … demography … infrastructure … cancer and ‘the digital economy’ … broadband Internet connections [for] public sector facilities. […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian government ‘on the brink’ of increasing retirement ages” – bne Intellinews

Two Babushkas file photo

“Russian government ‘is on the brink’ of increasing retirement age in Russia … Medvedev [said] … The current retirement age of 55/60 years was set in USSR … in [the] 1930’s when average life expectancy was 40 … Medvedev argued … * * * The pension fund deficit currently amount[s] to RUB3.35 trillion ($53bn). In 2015 age pensioners amounted to […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Russian pension system’s 2018 deficit will be twice as big as predicted” – Meduza

File Photo of Elders Walking in Russia

“Russia’s Labor Ministry has amended the Pension Fund’s 2018 budget to reflect a deficit that’s more than twice as high as predicted, rising from 106.6 billion rubles ($1.7 billion) to 256.8 billion rubles ($4.1 billion). The Pension Fund is expected to earn just 66.7 billion rubles ($1.1 billion), while spending 83.5 billion rubles ($1.3 billion). Spokespeople for the Pension Fund […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin Won’t Tell Voters How He’ll Pay for Domestic Spending” – Bloomberg/ Evgenia Pismennaya, Andrey Biryukov, Ilya Arkhipov

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“… offering Russians the biggest increase in domestic spending in years … what [Putin] won’t be talking much about is the package of tax hikes, benefit cuts and other changes … to help pay for [it] … possible increases to the pension age and the income tax … cuts in tax breaks for staples like food … [and] co-pays for […]

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NEWSLINK: “What about Pensions? An underlying issue at next year’s presidential elections is how to bring certainty and stability to Russia’s cash-strapped pension system. So far, the authorities have tiptoed around the matter.” – Intersection/ Artem Filatov

Two Babushkas file photo

“… Putin does not plan to retire any time soon. Yet many of his potential voters are worried about their own retirement prospects. Will their pensions be sizeable and reliable? At what age can Russians count on receiving them? During a televised call-in show held in mid-June, the president left this issue hanging. … By not giving any direct answers, the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia to become a net borrower for first time in a decade” – bne Intellinews

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“… Russia has been dipping into its rainy day Reserve Fund to cover the federal budget deficit but this fund is due to run out of money sometime next year. Now the government is actively preparing to dip into its other sovereign fund, the National Welfare Fund, that was set up to meet future pension payments, but now will be […]

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Russia Ranked Among Worst Countries to Be a Pensioner

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – July 20, 2017) Russia has staked its claim as one of the five worst countries in the world for pensioners, according to a new report. The Natixis Global Retirement Index ranks Russia 40th out of 43 countries worldwide – below Turkey, China, and Mexico. Only Brazil, Greece, and India have an even lower score. Russia […]

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In Annual Report, Medvedev Says Russian Economy Avoided Catastrophe

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – April 19, 2017) Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has promised not to raise taxes in 2017 and vowed to consider indexing retirement payments for working pensioners, delivering a moderately upbeat annual report on the troubled economy. Addressing the lower house of parliament on April 19, Medvedev said the Russian economy had avoided “catastrophe” despite low world […]

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Moscow Counting on Russians Passively Accepting Raising Pension Age beyond Male Life Expectancy

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(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 2, 2016) The Russian government doesn’t have to worry about widespread protests over its reported plans to raise the pension age of Russian males in 2018 to one older than their average life expectancy, a Russian scholar in Yakutsk says. The opposition will complain, but it doesn’t have the votes in […]

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Demographics expert: Russian men live 11 years less than women

File Photo of Elders Walking in Russia

(Interfax – June 2, 2016) Life expectancy in Russia has been growing, but there is a considerable gap between male and female lifespan in the country, experts said. “Male life expectancy exceeded 65 years two years ago, for the first time in Russia’s history. However, the gap between male and female lifespan exceeds 11 years,” laboratory head at the Russian […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin] Meeting with Russian Media

Ancient Temple Ruins in Greece with Tourists

(Kremlin.ru – May 28, 2016) Following the Russian-Greek talks, Vladimir Putin met with Russian media representatives. Question: Mr President, may I ask you a question about domestic policy rather than talks with Greece? Vladimir Putin: Are you having trouble sleeping? Remark: I am. The whole country is thinking about this issue. Vladimir Putin: Go ahead. Question: Mr Medvedev visited Crimea […]

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Putin’s Advisors to Outline Russian Economic Reform

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 23, 2016) Russia’s latest economic reform package is set to cut state spending and raise the retirement age, the Vedomosti newspaper reported Monday. The reforms, which are due to be discussed Wednesday May 25 by President Vladimir Putin’s economic council, will focus heavily on stimulating domestic investment. It is the first time the council […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s pensioners squeezed as recession bites” – Financial Times

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The Financial Times covers the impact of Russia’s economic downturn on older Russians. Several Russian regions have over the past year been forced to suspend benefit payouts or stop the inflation indexing of public sector wages. … The dramatic slide in crude prices has slashed revenues from the export of oil and gas which account for more than half Russia’s […]

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Putin: Average life expectancy in Russia to exceed 71 years in 2015

File Photo of Elders Walking in Russia

(Interfax – December 3, 2015) The average life expectancy in Russia will exceed 71 years in 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in his annual address to the Russian Federal Assembly on Dec. 3. “The average life expectancy in Russia has grown by more than five years over the past decade and, based on preliminary estimates, it should exceed 71 […]

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Medvedev: Retirement age has to be raised sooner or later

Two Babushkas file photo

(Interfax – November 11, 2015) Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has for the first time definitively supported the future raising of the retirement age without saying when this decision may be made. At present, the retirement age in Russia is 60 years for men and 55 years for women. The Finance Ministry insists there is no other way to resolve […]

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Russian Economy Set to Take Another Hit – A Much Smaller Labor Force in the Future

Russian Migrant Workers file photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, November 8, 2015) To the extent that falling prices for natural resources will force Moscow to rely on the development of other sectors, the Russian economy faces another and perhaps even more serious hit in the near term – a dramatically smaller workforce, each of whose members will have to support significantly […]

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Russian deputy prime minister says no plans to raise pension age

Two Babushkas file photo

(Interfax – October 20, 2015) Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets has said that the Russian government is not yet planning to raise the pension age. “We are not planning this over the period of time we use for planning. No, we are not,” Golodets told journalists on Tuesday [20 October] when asked when the government was planning to resume discussions […]

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Finance Ministry’s Nesterenko: retirement age increase ‘inevitable’

Two Babushkas file photo

KRASNOGORSK. Oct 9 (Interfax) – The interim decisions approved for next year in light of the budget deficit do not eliminate the need to raise the retirement age. The draft budget for 2016 approved by the government this week indexes pensions by just 4%, rather than the actual inflation rate in 2015 (about 12%), with an option to conduct a […]

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NEWSLINK TASS: Russia’s 200,000 employed senior citizens worry they may lose old age pension

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MOSCOW, March 26. /TASS/. Russian Labor and Social Protection Ministry’s idea of stripping employed senior citizens whose annual remuneration is one million roubles (about $16,500) or more of their old age security pension has sparked a debate in Russian society. In the context of Russia’s modern realities one million roubles is a sum enough to buy an average class car, […]

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Fewer Russians Fear Growing Old, Poll Shows

File Photo of Two Elders Walking Outdoors

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 29, 2014) The number of Russians who regard old age positively has grown over the past 10 years, a poll released Wednesday showed. The poll, conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation, showed 45 percent of respondents said they believed there were distinct advantages to old age, compared to 20 percent a decade ago. A […]

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Aging of Russian Population Said Helping Putin Retain Power But Hurting Country Over the Longer Term

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(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, December 17, 2013) “Time is working for President Putin and his regime” because the aging of the Russian population means that he can rely on the ever greater share of the population of pensioners, some Moscow experts say, but concomitantly time is working against Russia because it is rapidly driving down the […]

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Russia Pension Age Hike Off Table Till 2018 – Fund Head

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MOSCOW, November 6 (RIA Novosti) ­ Russia will not consider raising the retirement age until at least 2018, but will encourage people to work longer, the head of the State Pension Fund said Wednesday. President Vladimir Putin said during 2011 electoral campaigning that he was against raising the pension age and has frequently restated this position. Russia’s next presidential elections […]

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