Staunton, January 22 – In yet another tone-death action, Vladimir Putin has sent to the Duma a draft bill that will allow senior officials in the Russian government to serve as long as he wants them to rather than be forced to retire at age 70 as current law requires, and he has done this even as young people are joining protests against this looming gerontocracy.
Putin himself is approaching 70 and many of those around him are of the same generation. For them to remain in power without any age limits not only further limits the ability of younger people to rise through the ranks but raises the specter for Russians of the increasingly decrepit Brezhnev regime of half a century ago.
The measure (sozd.duma.gov.ru/bill/1099092-7#bh_note) would allow all senior officials to remain in office until 70 and presidential appointees (deputy ministers) to remain for as long as Putin wants them to. Critics say that this represents “a new self-confident step toward gerontocracy in the style of the late USSR” (ehorussia.com/new/node/22616).
Ministers are already exempt from the age limitation because under Russian law, they and “the leaders of other federal agencies are not government employees but occupy state positions.” Generally, they are required to retire at 70 unless the president intervenes to keep them on the job.
This is not the first such move in this direction, Earlier, for example, the Duma gave the president to reappoint regardless of age the rectors of Moscow and St. Petersburg universities. But it does reverse moves by then-president Dmitry Medvedev in December 2010 to lower the retirement age to 60. Putin restored it to 70 in January 2013.
Statistics show that as Putin has aged, so too has his government. The labor ministry reported in 2017 that those under 30 formed only 26 percent of the total number of employees in that ministry. Elsewhere in the government and state businesses, the share was roughly the same (realtribune.ru/news/authority/5779).
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