Russian pensioners have been staging a demonstration in a Moscow suburb as anger at welfare reforms continues to grow. They are furious at changes which have seen free public transport and housing benefits scrapped. Some saw the handouts as a hangover from the Soviet era, but older Russians argue they are essential for daily life.
“From the first of January everything was cancelled,” explained one woman. “I went to Moscow on the metro and I was really embarrassed when I was caught, so I went and bought a ticket for 20 trips. Is it right that pensioners should have to pay? I receive 62 euros pension every month, it’s not enough”.
“I don’t get benefits as a long-term tenant any more,” complained one man. “How can I continue with my family on this salary? My pension is 109 euros to support seven people.” There are rumours the Kremlin is planning emergency measures to calm the situation.
More than 20 major rallies are planned for the coming week, with young communists bringing their weight to a growing movement.
Reformists have urged President Vladimir Putin to push through the painful reforms in order to modernise the country.