Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Pension Age Boost Divides Russians Not Just from State but from Each Other, Voloshina Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 1 – Almost all commentaries about Moscow’s raising of the ages at which Russians can get pensions has focused on the ways in which this has provoked new divisions between the population and the powers that be.  But this action has also divided Russians along generational and other social lines.

            Russians in the provinces are angry at Muscovites because of the special supplements the latter receive, the Rosbalt journalist says. Those just below the new pension age are angry at those in their age cohort who have already have pensions. And younger people have very different views about their reform than do their elders (rosbalt.ru/blogs/2018/10/01/1735647.html).

                The authorities have exacerbated some of these divisions by legislation protecting those near pension age from being fired and providing that such people have the right to “demand assistance from their children,” Voloshina points out.  Such policies have the effect of setting one generation against another.

            “What can one call a state which puts people in conditions when they begin to dream about the death of those near them?” she asks, one that first “’optimized’” medical care beyond the reach of many and then “gave birth to a new social group of outcasts, people 55 to 60”? Even though such people have supported their children?

            Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov says that the government hasn’t considered those questions, Voloshina continues. But if that is the case, “why threaten employers for firing citizens over 50 despite their qualifications?” Obviously, many who are drafting laws aren’t the smartest; but clearly they aren’t being honest either.

            This pattern, the commentator says, leads people despite themselves to a conspiratorial vision of their country, to the assumption that the powers that be are pursuing some Machiavellian intentions of promoting suicides or even murders among some citizens to save the state money.

                That may not be the case, of course. But Voloshina’s argument suggests another which it would be a mistake to ignore.  Those who think that the only result of the pension reform is dividing Russians from their government are missing the point that in fact it is dividing them from each other.

            And given the longstanding tradition of the authorities in Moscow to play divide-and-rule politics against potential opponents, it is entirely possible that highlighting these divisions will become an increasingly important part of the Kremlin’s playbook, one that may win it support from some larger social groups even as it costs it the backing of other, smaller ones. 

No comments:

Post a Comment