Hundreds of people were arrested in Russia on Sunday while participating in protests against pension reform.
At least 100 people were arrested in St. Petersburg and several more in Moscow for “violating national laws” as thousands turned out for rallies against the government plans to raise the national retirement age, Russian interior ministry’s public order directorate, Yuri Valyaev told Russia’s TASS news agency.
President Vladimir Putin endorsed the plan, which was submitted by the government to the Russian State Duma, the lower house of parliament.
The plan would increase the age when Russians can retire and collect pension from 60 to 65 for men and from 55 to 60 for women.
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Opposition leader Alexei Navalny called for rallies throughout the country and ran advertisements on YouTube encouraging the demonstrations, which Google later removed at the request of Russian officials, The Guardian reported.
“We consider all justified appeals from state bodies. We also require advertisers to act in accordance with the local law and our advertising policies,” Google said.
More than 2,500 people gathered in Moscow’s Pushkin Square shouting “Putin is a thief!” and “No increase in the pension age!” The protests took a violent turn as protesters tried to march towards parliament and were beaten back by police.
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Russian authorities didn’t authorize many of the demonstrations, leading some to avoid the areas for fear of arrest.
Putin’s approval rating fell from 77 percent to 63 percent after the pension plans were announced in June as about 80 percent of politicians were in opposition.