Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday the retirement age should increase to 60 for women instead of the age of 63 which was proposed in the unpopular pension reform bill.
A draft pension reform bill in June stipulated a gradual increase in the retirement age to 65 for men by 2028 and 63 for women by 2034, but Putin suggested Wednesday in a televised address that the bigger increase for women isn’t fair.
“The retirement age for women should not increase more than for men,” Putin said. “That’s why I believe it is necessary to reduce the increase in the retirement age for women proposed by the law from 8 to 5 years.”
Putin added that he has tried to find alternatives to raising the age, but didn’t find anything else viable.
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“By my request the government has been working on this issue until recently,” Putin said. “They thoroughly studied and calculated all possible alternative scenarios. It turned out that, in fact, they do not solve anything radically. At best they only patch holes, or even worse — they carry destructive consequences for the country’s economy as a whole.”
Putin said the bill submitted to the State Duma in June and passed in July is needed for the system’s stability given the growing aging population, but the move has been unpopular.
Thousands of people protested the proposed legislation across the country in June with critics saying it would erode the social-safety net that has been a staple of Russian life since the communist era.
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Still, Russia’s lower house of parliament voted overwhelmingly in favor of the pension reform in the first three readings of the proposed legislation. The bill will need to be approved by the upper house as well before the president can sign it into law.
The president has sought to distance himself from the law as his popularity has sunk from a high of 89 percent in June 2015 to 67 percent in July, according to Levada-Center, a Moscow-based independent polling organization, but it’s widely known policy change doesn’t happen without his approval.
“It is the first time that people have understood that Putin is responsible for something, for something bad in this case,” Andrei Kolesnikov of the Carnegie Moscow Center, told the Wall Street Journal. “Because of that his approval ratings, his trust ratings, have been falling.”