Thousands of demonstrators peacefully protested against the government's plan to raise the retirement age, bringing fears to older Russians that they won't live long enough to collect significant benefits.

Supporters of left-wing political parties and movements hold a banner reading
Supporters of left-wing political parties and movements hold a banner reading "Against pension genocide" during a rally against the pension reform, which envisage raising the retirement age, in Moscow, Russia. September 22, 2018. (Reuters)

Thousands rallied across Russia on Saturday to protest the government's plan to raise the eligibility age for retirement pensions by five years.

Several thousand people attended a Moscow rally organised by the Communist Party and other leftist groups, which was authorised by city officials. Communist Party chief Gennady Zyuganov called for rolling back the proposed changes, arguing that the government should redistribute resources to avoid raising the pension age.

"They keep reaching into your pockets," he told the crowd, which had many waving red flags.

Similar protests were also held in many cities across Russia's 11 time zones and most of them were also sanctioned by authorities.

The demonstrations went on peacefully, unlike a wave of unauthorised pension protests earlier this month organised by opposition leader Alexei Navalny that led to the detention of over 1,000 people across Russia.

Navalny, the anti-corruption activist who is Putin's most visible foe, had called for protests against the pension age hike before he was sentenced to 30 days in jail for organising a January protest over a different issue. He is set to be released from custody Monday.

TRT World spoke to Director of Civil Leadership School Oleg Kozlovsky.

The government's plan to hike the retirement age to 65 for men and 60 for women has irked a wide range of Russians from all political factions. Older Russians fear they won't live long enough to collect significant benefits while younger generations are worried that keeping people in the workforce longer will limit their own employment opportunities.

The proposal has dented President Vladimir Putin's popularity. He responded by offering some concessions, but argued that the age hike is necessary because rising life expectancies in Russia could exhaust the nation's pension resources if the eligibility age remains the same.

Source: AP