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More than 1000 detained as protests over pensions sweep Russia

12 September 2018

Opposition leader Alexei Navalny - now serving a 30-day prison sentence for organizing unauthorized public events - called for the rallies, which were held in dozens of towns and cities to protest a government proposal to increase the state pension age by five years.

According to various polls, about 90 percent of Russians oppose the plan to raise the retirement age, and a recent poll by the Levada Center polling agency found that more than 50 percent of Russians say they would participate in protests against it.

In total 14 arrests over the decisions of administrative arrests, one person was detained in the criminal case. The largest number was in St. Petersburg, Russia's second-largest city, where 354 demonstrators were held, OVD-Info reported.

The protests against pension reform in 19 cities of Russian Federation arrested 153 people.

Almost half of those detained were rounded up in St. Petersburg, according to the OVD-Info.

Demonstrations against plans to raise the retirement age in Russian Federation - from 60 to 65 for men and 55 to 60 for women - were held on 9 September.

The proposed pension changes, which are now going through parliament, have shaved around 15 percentage points off President Vladimir Putin's popularity rating.

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Police violently broke up unsanctioned rallies, including in Saint Petersburg where more than 450 people were detained. Footage of a rally in Ulan-Ude, some 4,400 km (2734 miles) east of Moscow, showed protesters walking through the city holding red balloons escorted by the police.

United Russia also suffered defeats to the Communists in party-list votes for three regional parliaments.

Sputnik English reported on an "unauthorized march" in Moscow with about 2,000 protesters rallying against the pension reform.

The proposed pension changes, which are now going through parliament, have shaved around 15 percentage points off Putin's popularity rating and are the most unpopular government measure since a 2005 move to scrap Soviet-era benefits.

But Mr Putin and government officials say the age hike is necessary because rising life expectancy in Russian Federation could exhaust pension resources if the eligibility age remains the same.

The proposals have been heavily criticised by Russia's usually subservient press, with Moskovski Komsomolets, a popular Moscow newspaper, describing them as the "most unsafe and risky reform of President Putin's 20-year rule".

In the Moscow mayoral election, incumbent Mayor Sergei Sobyanin won with 70 percent of the votes. Their compliance with the request also came after Russian Federation warned the company last week that "meddling" in the Sunday elections could result in court action, according to AFP.

More than 1000 detained as protests over pensions sweep Russia