Russian lower house passes controversial pensions reform package

Moscow: Russia’s lower house of Parliament on Thursday approved a controversial pensions reform bill that raises the retirement age for Russian workers, among other provisions that have been harshly criticized by the opposition, trade unions and social justice organizations.

The bill, after its third and definitive reading, was passed with 332 votes in favour and 83 against by the State Duma, Efe news reported.

It is now set to be examined by the Federation Council, the upper house of the Federal Assembly of Russia.

Numerous mass protests have been erupting across the world’s largest country in response to the government’s proposal of raising the retirement age from 55 to 60 in the case of women and from 60 to 65 for men, which it argued was needed to guarantee the pension system’s long-term sustainability.

According to various polls, between 80 to 90 per cent of Russian citizens reject these changes, a fact that has seen itself reflected in recent regional elections in which the ruling United Russia party obtained worse results than previously expected.

The legislation that had been originally proposed was set to raise the retirement age for women up to 63 years, but President Vladimir Putin personally intervened — in order to dampen the outrage — by lowering it to 60 years in an amendment that was approved on Wednesday.

}