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Putin tries to calm retirement age outcry

Moscow protest over government plan to increase the retirement age
Moscow protest over government plan to increase the retirement age -
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Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to be trying to calm public outcry over proposed changes to the national retirement age.

Parliament has passed a first reading of the bill that would raise the age to 65 for men - up from 60 - and to 63 for women, up from 55.

But Putin stopped short of saying the proposed change should be reversed.

"You know that issue didn't arise just yesterday," Putin said on Friday (July 20). "It has been discussed over many years with various degrees of intensity and different solutions have been proposed. When they asked me, and when they now ask me, which of the different variants I liked, I said then and can say now - none of them."

Putin said rising life expectancy is putting the pension system under pressure.

The country has seen unusually broad resistance to the bill since its introduction in June.

Putin's trust rating has fallen significantly and activists from across the political spectrum have united in opposing the change.