Eighty times in the past two and a half weeks, the Sverdlovsk region’s Public Security Ministry has denied requests from the “Left Front” movement for a permit to stage a protest against Russia’s planned pension reforms. The activists say they have tried to get permission to hold a demonstration at one of the four venues where officials have said they will allow political rallies during the FIFA World Cup. Last year, Vladimir Putin signed an executive order suspending most public assembly rights in host cities during the soccer tournament.
Left Front members say they’ve repeatedly requested permits for times and venues that are vacant, only to be told by officials that the spaces are already occupied. The activists have even lined up outside the ministry early in the morning, to be certain that they were the first ones who could possibly request a permit for a given time and location. The authorities still turned them down.
In June, the Russian government submitted draft legislation to the State Duma, establishing a plan to raise the country’s retirement age from 60 to 65 for men by 2028, and from 55 to 63 for women by 2034. Public opinion polls show that Russians largely oppose this proposal, and one of the most common objections is that people fear they won’t live to collect their pensions under the new system.