Staunton, February 2 – The Russian government doesn’t have to worry about widespread protests over its reported plans to raise the pension age of Russian males in 2018 to one older than their average life expectancy, a Russian scholar in Yakutsk says. The opposition will complain, but it doesn’t have the votes in the Duma to block the Kremlin.
The comments of Yury Danilov, director of the Experts Center at the North-East Federal University, came in response to a broad attack on Moscow’s plans in this area by Stepan Petrov who heads the public organization, Yakutia – Our Opinion” who accuses the Kremlin of ignoring realities and pursuing genocide (regnum.ru/news/society/2233468.html).
Raising the retirement age, Petrov says, should be based on the life expectancy of the population and its standard of living rather than on any rush to save money or approach the same pension age as in the West. Russians today live “more like in Honduras or Bangladesh than in developed countries,” and their pension ages should reflect that reality.
The activist points out that Russia ranks 110th out of 183 countries in terms of life expectancy and that raising the pension age to 65 as the government wants to will mean that more than half of all Russian men will not live to get a pension as their life expectancy now is 64.7 years.
Of course, he says, one can understand Moscow’s desire “to approach the world level of pension age, but for that to work, Russians must have a quality of life, social conditions and medicine corresponding to international standards. Otherwise this [step] is a profanation of social policy and simply discredits the state.”
Petrov argues that this latest government plan reflects the larger problem of the Moscow’s failure to think and act systemically and instead to approach each issue in isolation from others and to do so like a fireman responding to a fire rather than a planner thinking about the future.
“The situation in many directions is only getting worse,” he says, “the logical outcome of the lack of a well-thought out state policy.” Instead, Moscow operates on the principle that Russians should simply accept the fact that “there is no money but you hand on” that has been articulated by Dmitry Medvedev.
“But for some, there is money,” the activist continues. The pension age could remain where it is and pensions could be fully paid if the income from the sale of oil and gas were used for these goals. But instead, they are “spent so that the oligarchs can have a trouble-free life.”
Indeed, Petrov says, “a preliminary analysis of this reform allows for the conclusion that the government of Russia has chosen a policy of genocide against the Russians, hoping that the mahority of men will die before seeking their pensions. If so, they won’t have to be paid [because] as the saying has it, ‘no person, no problem.’”
But such a policy, he says, will lead to even bigger problems, “to the dying out of a number of territories of Russia in which depressed population points like company towns, distance settlements, and villages where life expectancy is already lower than average, predominate.”