Staunton, June 26 – Vladimir Putin faces overwhelming opposition to his plan to raise retirement ages on ordinary citizens, as judged by polls showing more than 90 percent of Russians opposed, a petition signed by more than two million Russians, and by the organization of a growing number of protests.
But the Kremlin leader’s biggest “pension problem” lies ahead, and it is a Hobson’s choice. Will he refuse to raise the much lower retirement ages that now exist for retired military and security services, and thus further anger the population? Or will he raise them and call into question their hitherto absolute loyalty to himself?
According to new polls, more than half of Russians think that the bureaucrats will get the most from pension reform, and many are complaining that the losses they are expected to absorb won’t be extended either to officials or to the oligarchs (fedpress.ru/news/77/society/2077053 and aif.ru/money/mymoney/pochemu_ne_trogaem_oligarhov_glavnye_voprosy_o_pensionnoy_reforme).
Those, of course, are somewhat different categories than the siloviki. But there is also evidence that Russians are beginning to ask questions that no one in the Kremlin wants asked: what are the pensions and benefits of the retirees from the force structures on whom the regime relies to maintain control (mbk.media/suzhet/pensiya-s-privilegiyami/).
Compared to ordinary Russians, siloviki have much more generous pension plans. They can retire at half salary after 20 years, see their pensions increased three percent for each additional year, and get additional bonuses for awards they may have received while employed. Moreover, after early retirement, many work elsewhere and get pensions from those jobs.
In reporting these figures, the MBK news agency also notes that former presidents of the country are guaranteed pensions equal to 75 percent of the pay of incumbents “independent of their age but only after ending government service.” But it also points out that the salaries of the president and prime minister haven’t been published in recent years.
Many countries have established early retirement and pension benefits for military and police; but when officials, pleading poverty, talk about raising retirement ages and thus cutting benefits for everyone else, such arrangements almost inevitably come under fire, forcing to make the difficult choice that Putin has not yet announced (svpressa.ru/society/article/203699/).
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