Among those who came were representatives of the Pensions for a Worthy Life Party, Stalinists, the Left Front, the KPRF, and the National Liberation Movement (NOD). The last were few and angered many in the crowd by insisting that the problems were caused not by Moscow but by the IMF, the only pro-government words during the two-hour meeting.
The attitude of the crowd, Nosovelova reports, was reflected by the fact that the protest began under the slogan, “Down with the Medvedev Government!” and ended with the slogan, “Impeach the president!”
Some speakers insisted that the goal of the government’s retirement reforms was to rob the population blind in order for the oligarchs to corruptly enrich themselves. They said that it was wrong to raise the retirement age to European levels when in Russia 60 percent of the workers won’t live to those ages and thus will never get anything.
Others focused on the gas price hikes. Natalya Kalinina, a leader of the drivers group in the city, said that “the government has carried out a genocide of its own population.” Siberians can’t go around on bicycles, she said; and everyone must stop allowing the government to treat them like slaves. “In Siberia, fuel is life just as much as bread is.”
No one from the ruling United Russia Party showed up, the journalist says; and that sparked anger too: where are they? “why are they silent?” demonstrators shouted. “They ignore us” and think those who object are within the margin of error. “This entire cabal is inadequate and must be sent into retirement!”
Larisa Maslovskaya, the representative of the deceived debtors group in the region and the final speaker, said to shouts of “Down with Putin!” that if pension ages go up and taxes on capital gains do as well, “people will become homeless.”
But whatever Russians may do in this situation, she declared “Siberians have never lived on their knees and never will.”