On Thursday, immediately after Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced the government’s plans to raise Russia’s retirement age for the first time in modern history and hike the VAT by two percent, MediaZona chief editor Sergey Smirnov joked on Twitter: “When Putin learned about the pension reform and raising of the VAT, he was furious.” He was mocking the president’s Teflon political status, where Putin gets credit for all the times the state boosts social spending, but is mysteriously blameless any time the government fouls up or steps back.
Smirnov gets clairvoyance points this week, because Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday that Putin “isn’t participating in the pension reform process,” calling it “the [Medvedev] government’s prerogative.” Peskov also highlighted Russia’s very real and hardly unique demographic challenges, pointing out that Putin’s previous promise not to raise the retirement age was more than 13 years ago. The current plan is something economic experts are working out, Putin’s spokesman says.
On June 14, Dmitry Medvedev unveiled a plan to raise Russia’s retirement age for men from 60 to 65 by 2028 and from 55 to 63 for women by 2034. The reforms would start as soon as next year. According to the proposal's explanatory note, women are getting a bigger increase because of “changes in their social status.” In other words, there's more gender equality now, so saddle up, ladies.