Putin slides on retirement age rise

President softens unpopular plan but pension age still to increase for men and women

Russian President Vladimir Putin has described the downing of a military plane in Syria as a "tragic chain of circumstances."

Russia’s retirement age is set for an unpopular increase in both men and women, but President Vladimir Putin has softened the incoming legislature following widespread criticism on both sides of the political spectrum.

The retirement age for women will increase from 55 to 60 instead of the previously reported age of 63, Putin said in a rare televised address on Tuesday. However the incoming age raise for men, from 60 to 65, remains unchanged – one year shy of the expected Russian male’s life expectancy of 66.

As published by Russia Reports in June, Putin lost up to eight points in some opinion polls after his government announced the retirement age plan during the dazzle and distraction of this year’s World Cup opening ceremony.

While the initial announcement was made by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Putin this time spoke directly to his people on the controversial issue. He said that delaying the decision risked causing inflation and increasing poverty.

“Any further delay would be irresponsible,” he said. “Our decisions should be just and well-balanced.”

Tens of thousands of people have rallied in Russian streets about the retirement age hike, prompting rare unity between groups of people on opposing sides of politics. More than 3,000 people protested in early July with some signs reading “Help the state, die before your pension”, The BBC reported.

The age raise will go ahead but with softer rules for women, Putin said.

“Women not only work but they also take care of the house and children and grandchildren. Their retirement age should not increase by more than that of men,” he said.

Women who had three or more children would also be given the opportunity to retire early, Putin said.

The decision goes against comments made by Putin in 2005, when he said he would never agree to raise the retirement age while leader. Many economists agree, however, that Russia has an age problem. The United Nations estimates that on current trends, 20 percent of the population will be over 65 by 2050.

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