Who Can Protest Russia’s Pension Reforms the Loudest? (Op-ed)

Anywhere else, this might be considered political schizophrenia. But not in Russia. Here, when launching an unpopular policy (more than 80 percent of respondents to recent polls are against the changes to the pensions system), the state is prepared to temper its original plans depending on how disgruntled people are. The Russian authorities have roused the otherwise dormant trade unions to lead the protest that will allow them to gauge dissent.

For the government, the number one priority is that President Vladimir Putin’s ratings do not suffer and that he does not have to take responsibility for any of this. What seems most likely is that he will enter the fray last of all, and meet the people halfway by softening the current plan.

Raising the retirement age to 65 from 60 for men by 2028, and to 63 from 55 for women by 2034, is not, incidentally, even really a reform. It is merely an attempt to bring pensions in line with the demographic trend of an aging population (not to mention the fact that no other country with comparable levels of income has such a low retirement age). It also reflects a desire to save some state money.

The problem is that in order to live happily long beyond the retirement age — a great age by Russian standards — you have to be healthy. This is not something which older Russians are known for. On average, people live just over 10 years after retiring, according to various estimates.