Mass actions held in Moscow, St. Petersburg against raising retirement age

Moscow: The people against the ‘pension reform’

More than 1,500 people took part in an authorized rally on July 18 against raising the retirement age in Sokolniki Park in Moscow. 

The paddock in Sokolniki Park was the only place where the city authorities would allow people to hold a rally against raising the retirement age. Actually, the paddock is proudly called “Hyde Park,” that is, no agreement with the city should be required to rally there. [Translator’s note: It’s supposed to be a “designated protest area”] Yet — it was necessary to coordinate with the authorities, go through a metal detector and be observed by the riot police squad, which timed the event literally with a stopwatch. This is the “freedom of assembly” we have today. 

Representatives of a number of trade unions and left-wing organizations, including the United Communist Party (OKP), ROT FRONT, the Left Front, the RRP made speeches at the rally. There were no flags of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF), though someone spoke on behalf of this party, too. Strangely enough, the event was visited even by those who are traditionally called the “right,” including the scandalously famous Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin. 

Here’s how Anatoly Baranov, Secretary of the Central Committee of the United Communist Party, characterizes the planned “reform”:

– Firstly, my generation has strictly fulfilled its part of the “social contract” — in 1977, when I made out my work book, my duties and the obligations of the state were spelled out in the Labor Code. And I fulfilled my part of the contract for 40 years — you can look at my work book – I worked, received gratitude and awards, there were no penalties. But when it was time for this state to fulfill its obligations, it somehow decided that it was me who was to blame — our generation did not work well, could not provide itself with a pension … 

But let’s be honest — the pension, even before its planned cancellation, was insultingly small. It’s impossible to live on it, and all the “young” pensioners are forced to somehow earn additional income. But the tiny pension, in fact, is a small acknowledgement of the fact that at 60 years old you cannot earn as much as at 30. And this compensation you’ve decided not to give me anymore.

But this means that you will definitely lose the ability to live. And that 4.6 million human lives that will be cut off before the start of the new retirement age is a lie. More will die! Because it was based on the calculation of the receipt of a pension, and now it will not be! So, someone will not have enough for medicines, someone will not get vitamins, and not enough calories … But mortality after a short time will begin to grow. 

This is called genocide. Genocide of older people.

This, by the way, concerns everyone. Or almost everyone. The object of genocide is all of us.

And now the government turns to us, to the object of genocide, with the question — where will it get the money for us to retire?

Is it our responsibility to answer this question for the government? Were we asked when it formed the economic policy according to which our country is the first in the world in the growth in the number of billionaires — and the last in Europe in life expectancy?

Pensioners should ask the government where our pension savings are! 

If we believe official economic statistics, then our country is first in the world for economic growth. So where is the money? If the economic management is inefficient, then it should not even be about the resignation of the government — that was necessary before.

It should be about bankruptcy of the state! Yes, if the state is not able to fulfill its obligations to citizens of retirement age — declare yourselves bankrupt! And we ourselves will take what we need from the liquidated property. Give us the factories and oil industries that were squeezed dry by the oligarchs, Gazprom and Rosneft. Give them back to us! And we ourselves will figure out what to do with them, instead of the useless current leaders.

That’s how to put the question! 

It is clear that our “masters of life” will not want to bankrupt themselves, but it is necessary to put the question! And to file in the courts, by the way. Instead of joking at the rallies that Medvedev and Siluanov will watch the video from the rally in the bushes behind the toilet in Sokolniki Park? But a lawsuit will have to be read.

And the second question is the price. Economist Andrei Bunich, who did not get to speak at the rally, estimated that it was about saving $2 billion for the treasury. That is, an amount that any one of the oligarchs could pull from his pocket, not to speak of all the hundreds who own all of Russia today. And then, according to Bunich, in a few years the losses from this reform will exceed today’s savings. 

But here is the essence of the matter — the losses will be later, and the losses will be for the treasury. But $2 billion can be “saved” for their own pockets now. That’s the whole background of this “pension reform” story! This was already the case in 2005, when the expected gain from cancellation of benefits resulted in losses for the budget several times greater. But for those who profited from this, the interests of the state mattered very little … But the Investigative Committee should have been concerned.

Naturally, all the participants did not hear the rally. They had a good time, got on with each other well with slogans and utopian plans. We parted. 

By the way, on September 9 in Moscow and the Moscow region there are elections of heads of regions. Do you think at least one of the candidates was at the rally?

They were not … 


St. Petersburg showed a ‘red card’ for pension reform

On July 18 in the center of St. Petersburg about a thousand residents of the city gathered to express their protest against the planned increase of the retirement age by the Russian Federation government. Activists and supporters of ROT FRONT, RKSM (b), OKP, Left Bloc, RSD, MMT, RRS, Yabloko and other organizations took part in the action. Since the authorities of the city, under flimsy pretexts, refused to authorize a rally, the protesters decided to take a walk along Nevsky Prospekt from Malaya Sadovaya to Isakievskaya Square. The participants of the action raised red football cards, symbolizing a serious violation of the “rules of the game” by the government. Petersburgers thus hint to the authorities that by planning such antisocial reforms, there is a chance they could be removed from the field. 

Almost immediately after the start of the action, police announced that the gathering of citizens, which the officer for some reason called a rally (although there were no slogans and posters heard or seen, and moreover there was no amplified sound equipment), was unauthorized and therefore illegal. Protesters tried not to succumb to provocations and continued to show their cards. Then the citizens organized themselves on a walking tour of the Nevsky Prospekt, holding red cards in their hands, but they were immediately blocked by a cordon of riot police. People retreated deep into Malaya Sadovaya, lowered their cards and went back through the cordon to Nevsky Prospekt. 

The walk turned into a procession with the red cards raised at the Gostiny Dvor. Someone loudly said: “We are against pension reform.” Then, at the Griboyedov Canal, OMON [riot police] blocked the way, everyone stopped. Several OMON troops rushed into the crowd, targeting activists of left and trade union organizations. During the arrests, the crowd chanted loudly: “Shame! Shame!” Then they continued the journey to Isakievskaya Square. Only about 200 people reached the square. No one shouted slogans on the square, but the police still demanded they disperse. Several more people were detained. The protesters showed a red card to the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg for unworthy behavior and the action ended there. In total, according to our data, about fifty people were in the hands of law enforcement officers. 

The event was held in the framework of the all-Russian campaign “People Against the Pension Reform.” An undeniable advantage of the action is that many young and middle-aged people came to it, a fair number of whom participated in such an action for the first time. Provocateurs were practically unnoticeable. People came out and looked each other in the eye, and they saw that they were not alone, and that many equally adequate, interesting and strong-willed people took action against the anti-people reform plan, just like themselves. This provides an incentive to continue the fight with confidence and greater energy against raising the retirement age. 


Translated by Greg Butterfield

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