Putin's United Russia party faces unhappy electorate

Popular opposition to government pension and retirement age reform brings protesters to streets and threatens the dominance of President Vladimir Putin's United Russia party.

Daria Sukharchuk
Daria Sukharchuk NewsMavens, Central & Eastern Europe
Putin's United Russia party faces unhappy electorate - NewsMavens
Vladimir Putin, Пресс-служба Президента России, Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

It all started with a pension reform.

It was announced, out of the blue, in mid-June, on the day that the Russian team triumphantly defeated Saudi Arabia in the kick-off match of the football World Cup.

The reform, which all the parties and the President Putin personally swore would never happen, raised the retirement age by 5 years for men and 8 for women.  Pensions in Russia are low, but for many low-income people, they are a welcome addition to their salaries. And finally, to add insult to injury, ex-military officers and secret service employees retained their high pensions and early retirement rights.

Fast forward three months -- and thousands of people are out in the streets protesting on the day of the local elections, and many more are voting against the ruling party.

We cannot say if it will mean a further loss of autonomy for Russia's regions, or stronger police control on protesters. But maybe it is a harbinger of change.

Details from the story:

  • After this Sunday, United Russia might lose control over 4 federal states, including the Pacific coast.
  • Thousands of people protested on Sunday, over one thousand were detained.
  • The pension age is set to be raised from 60 to 65 for men, and 55 to 63 for women.
  • The average life expectancy in Russia is 66 years old for men, and 77 years old for women.
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