Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Putin’s Pension Reform Producing Three Tectonic Shifts in Russian Society, Pryanikov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 19 – The pension reform Vladimir Putin oversaw last year continues to cast a far larger shadow on Russian society than anyone expected, Pavel Pryanikov says. It has set in motion three “tectonic shifts” with the population which together are certain to cause more problems for the powers that be in the future than they already have.

            In a Facebook post, the editor of the Tolkovatel portal argues that last year’s “pension reform is broader than simply a reform.” It is something that has divided Russian society in new ways and put each of the groups within it in motion in possibly unexpected ways (facebook.com/ppryanikov/posts/2292972120747834).

            The changes the boost in retirement age imposed affected three different groups very differently, a fact that helps to explain why there were not massive protests against it. Those just before retirement age suffered the most; those who had already retired may even have benefitted; and the young far from retirement did not feel that the reform really affected them at all.Those

            But the absence of mass protests so far, Pryanikov says, does not mean that there won’t be major protests about this issue in the future. Three “techtonic shifts” strongly suggest otherwise. First, over the next decade, the share of the population facing retirement will grow significantly, and that cohort will see what it has lost relative to its predecessors.

            Second, the commentator says, “ever more people are beginning to understand that their hopes for a social state are minimal and that they must organize their own life, without counting on the state.” Those in this category, perhaps 20 to 25 percent of the population, will demand the state do more or get out of the way so that they can take care of themselves.

            And third, according to the analyst, ever more people will move from regions that are decaying to regions doing better, such as the capitals, thus adding to the numbers of the first two categories.  That in turn will mean that those not prepared to put up with what the government is doing will become smaller especially in key urban areas.

            Today, Novyye izvestiya reprints Pryanikov’s suggest and also the reaction of others who do not agree with his interpretation as well as his reaction to their critical comments (newizv.ru/article/general/19-02-2019/pensionnaya-reforma-zalozhila-tri-tektonicheskih-sdviga-v-obschestve).

            Journalist Mikhail Sokolov rejects his categories and says there won’t be any such “shifts.” Instead, those who are the losers will simply die off; and those who are offended will chose exit over protest.  And political activist Aleksey Tsvetkov says that the falling value of labor that Pryanikov’s model suggests will win the regime support from business interests.

            Pryanikov responds that the decline in the price of labor will occur in the first instance in the regions and that that will have the effect of driving even more people into the megalopolises, thus leading to the creation of the situation he anticipates and creating more problems for the regime in the future.

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