Russian President Vladimir Putin has bowed to pressure from the public and softened his planned pension reforms. The retirement age for women, which at present is 55, will be increased to 60, rather than 63 as originally proposed. But the plan to increase the men's retirement age by five years to 65 will stay.
"The main goal of this bill is to provide financial stability in our pension system for many years to come," said Putin on state TV, "which means not only keeping the same pension rates, but also increasing them for current and future pensioners. To reach these goals the bill, apart from other provisions, envisages a gradual rise in pension age."
The government says the retirement age increase is necessary because people are living longer. and the bill passed the first stage easily. The second reading is due to take place on September 24.
The proposals have led to street protests with the unions arguing that many people will not live long enough to claim a pension. The World Health Organisation puts men's life expectancy in Russia at 66, and 77 for women.
The pension age rise would occur in stages over the next 15 years.
The average pension currently is about 14,000 roubles (197 euros) a month.