President Vladimir Putin has signed controversial legislation raising the country's retirement age. Just hours earlier, Russia's Federation Council approved the bill, raising the pension age from 55 to 60 for women, and from 60 to 65 for men. One hundred and forty-nine senators voted in favor of the bill, just five voted against it, and three senators abstained. Vladimir Putin had recently endorsed the unpopular initiative in a national television broadcast.
Since the government announced plans to raise the retirement age, Russians have expressed less support for President Putin and especially the ruling political party, United Russia, and thousands of opponents have staged protests across the country. United Russia’s leadership believes its poor showing in certain regional elections earlier this fall was a direct result of the party’s support for pension reform.
In mid-September, a poll by the independent Levada center showed that 85 percent of the country opposes raising the retirement age to 65 for men, and just 11 percent of Russians support the policy. Slightly more Russians (88 percent) oppose raising the retirement age to 60 for women, and just 9 percent support the policy. At the same time, the percentage of Russians who said they would join any street protests in their area against pension reform dropped 53 percent to 35 percent.