On Sunday, thousands of Russians protested the increase of the pension age. However, no demonstrations were held in the World Cup host cities due to a regulation banning protests in those cities for the duration of the Championship. The Sunday protests were led by supporters of the Kremlin’s most established opponent, Alexei Navalny.
Navalny stated that his supporters organized protests in 39 cities throughout the country, from the Russian Pacific Coast to Murmansk. Most of the rallies were approved by local authorities, and no arrests have been reported.
Navalny posted photos of the protests, showing people holding posters that said: “Raise pensions, not the retirement age” and “Hands off our pensions!”
Street protests organized by other political forces including communists also took place.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, stated in June that the Government intends to raise the retirement age for men from 60 to 65 years, and from 55 to 63 for women.
Russian authorities explained that this proposed reform is necessary to reduce pressure on Russia’s government budget. Critics note that the proposed retirement age exceeds the average life expectancy in the regions.
Several public opinion polls show that Putin’s rating fell from 75 to 69 percent after the Government’s announcement of plans to raise the retirement age.
Under Putin’s decree, which was issued before the World Cup, increased security measures were taken in the World Cup host cities. Putin’s security decree provides local authorities with additional powers to prohibit protests.