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‘We look after the women in our country’ In a nutshell, here's Putin's big speech about raising the retirement age

Source: Meduza
Kremlin Press Service

On August 29, Vladimir Putin finally came out openly in support of a federal initiative to raise Russia's retirement age from 60 to 65 for men, and from 55 to 60 for women. The president tweaked the State Duma's current plan, proposing a slightly smaller hike to women's pension age, but the bulk of the national address was about explaining the need for cutbacks to a nation that's come to expect a certain degree of paternalism from its government. Putin's speech was more than 3,100 words. For those without the time or inclination to dive into the original text, Meduza offers the following paraphrased summary.

The main reason for raising the retirement age is to ensure the system’s financial solvency and grow pensioners’ incomes. We’re in a demographic rut because of the Second World War and the 1990s, which is why there isn’t enough money to pay our pensions. I was against changing the system in the 2000s, and I still believe this was the right position, because our economy was weak. Since then, unemployment has declined and life expectancy has risen. The simplest thing for the state to do now would be to change nothing, but taking no action would require lowering pension payments. These payments are already modest, however, so how do you lower them? The government has explored other options, but they offer only temporary relief. A progressive income tax or the sale of state property would buy us just a few more days to pay pensions, and additional taxes on the fuel and energy sector or the use of reserve funds would get us a few extra months. All this would be irresponsible to the country and to our children. We look after the women in our country, which is why I’m proposing that we raise women’s retirement age by just five years. I’m also proposing employment protections for workers near retirement age. We also need to think outside the box and develop a more advanced set of benefits. The government hasn’t dragged its feet on this issue; we simply weren’t ready for these measures before. But we can’t wait any longer. This decision isn’t easy, but it’s necessary. Please bear with us.

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