Saturday, September 29, 2018

Kremlin Reacts to Russian Anger about Pensions by Spreading Seven Myths, Shelin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 28 – Having pushed through as expected its plan to raise pension ages for Russians, the Kremlin has reacted to popular anger about the measure not by addressing the concerns of the population but rather by spreading seven myths, Sergey Shelin says. “People know they are being lied to but do not understand exactly how.”

            For the Rosbalt news agency, the commentator lists seven myths, each of which is based on lies, that the Russian government and its controlled media are now spreading throughout the population, on the one hand, muddying the waters, and on the other, reducing the readiness of Russians to continue to protest (

            First of all, the Kremlin insists that “the reform touches all future Russian pensioners.” According to Shelin, “this is not so.” It doesn’t affect those in the siloviki, the numerically small peoples of the North, and certain other categories. This attempt to present it as a burden everyone shares is simply not the case.

            Second, the regime asserts that “all pensioners receive their pensions from the Pension Fund.” That too is not the case. The siloviki for example receive theirs not from that source but from their own ministries which have different rules. Again, the distinction matters and the Kremlin is trying to obliterate it.

            Third, the authorities insist that the deficit of the state pension fund is “a mirror of the existing nightmarish situation and a sign that the increase in the pension age is absolutely inevitable.” That too, Shelin says, isn’t true, both because some pensioners get their money from elsewhere and because the rise in the pension age could have been prevented by other means.

            Fourth, the regime advances the argument that the “enormous” sums the government transfers into the pension system show that it was necessary to “immediately” raise the pension age. They do not show that at all, Shelin counters. Instead, they show that the system was never set up properly but that it continues to function and could without change for some time.

            Fifth, the regime simultaneously promises that the country’s demographic situation will soon turn around and says that demographic decline means that the government has no choice but to raise the pension age.  Both can’t be true, and in fact, the government’s own statistics and projections show that neither is, the Rosbalt commentator says.

            Sixth, the Kremlin insists that the pension costs for the siloviki are so small relative to those for the population as a whole that they should not be discussed at the same time. In fact, the per capita costs for siloviki pensions are so much higher than those for everyone else that discussing them together is required.

            And seventh, Shelin continues, government media argue that “pensions will become fewer but on the other hand they will become wealthier [because] all the money saved will go to them.” That is false on two grounds. On the one hand, the money saved is going to the military; and on the other, pensions aren’t being indexed to keep up with inflation.

            For each of these seven “myths,” Shelin provides official figures that show why none of them is true. 

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