New Moscow protests against Russian pension reform bill
Protesters joined the 'Social March of Millions' demonstration in Moscow on Saturday (September 22) to say no to Russia's widely unpopular pension reform bill.
The proposed bill is scheduled for a second reading on Monday (September 24) and would raise the retirement age for men from 60 to 65 by 2028 and from 55 to 60 by 2034 for women.
"They increased the retirement age to 65 years, the average life expectancy is 66 and a half years, so we have 40 percent of men who won't survive until retirement," political activist Nikolai Levshitz told Euronews. "So all the money they paid to the state, will simply go into the pockets of officials, Putin's pockets, to his friends or to someone else".
The proposed policy remains a senstive topic for the government and last month it watered down the proposed reform in response to ongoing nationwide protests.
Earlier this month, hundreds of people were detained at similar demonstrations across Russia.
"For the government, of course there's a fear factor," says Andrey Kolesnikov of the Carnegie Moscow Center. "For Putin, I don't know, because he's a very specific personality, but the fact that he, in August, in a very trusting and completely unexpected manner, decided to talk with people - this suggests that he's taking it very seriously".
Recent polls show that President Putin’s personal approval rating has taken a hit - dropping by more than 10 percentage points since the reform was proposed.
Euronews correspondent Galina Polonskaya was at the demonstration:
"Students, businessmen, pensioners – almost all parts of Russian society turned out for this protest, which was organized by the communist party. Demonstrators are demanding a referendum, they want the government to resign and are sure - that raising of the retirement age will be disastrous for everyone who lives in this country".