Putin’s Pension Amendments Reach State Duma

Reforms must be approved in next two readings and upper house before president can make them law.

President Vladimir Putin’s first amendments to Russia’s controversial pension reform bill reached the lower house Thursday, Andrew Turchak, the Federation Council’s vice speaker, confirmed.

The first package of amendments was authored by 31 lawmakers of the State Duma and one member of the Federation Council, Turchak told Russian news agency TASS.

The bill, which passed the first of its three readings prior to Putin’s intervention, originally looked to raise the national retirement ages from 55 to 63 for women and from 60 to 65 for men to help bolster Russia’s finances. Putin’s revision last month softened the blow for women, reducing their pension age to 60. He also added other clauses for early retirement, as well as training programs for those within five years of retirement. The bill would also hold employers who discriminate against older generations accountable. Russia’s life expectancy is 66 years for men and 77 for women, according to the latest data from the World Health Organization.

The president’s changes to the bill came as a surprise as he had originally distanced himself from commenting on the move despite public outcry, until his approval ratings slipped to a four-year low.

Putin’s cushion has done little to quell the nerves of the Russian people. Protests are still popping up, with nearly 10,000 in attendance in the center of Moscow on September 2, Asia News reports. More than half the population is willing to join protests, according to a survey from the Levada Center, Russia’s only independent pollster.

The bill must now pass its second of three readings in the State Duma. Following a third reading approval, it would move to the upper house. If that chamber approves, the president then decides the bill’s fate.

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