World It was the fall of 2005 and Vladimir Putin, in his second term as Russia’s president, was holding a televised Q&A session with the nation. Toward the end of the program, a middle-aged woman asked him to comment on media reports that the government wanted to increase the age at which Russian citizens can retire and claim—as almost all of them do—a state pension. The question was an important one for Putin, whose popularity after he first came to power in 2000 was partly due to his success in ensuring that senior citizens received their pensions in full and on time, something that had rarely happened under his predecessor, President Boris Yeltsin. Putin stared directly into the camera. “I am opposed to raising the retirement age,” he said, wagging his index finger to emphasize his words. “And as long as I am president, no such decision will be taken.” Thirteen years on, Putin is still president, but his promise to the Russian people has come back to haunt him. On June 14, his ruling United Russia party introduced legislation to increase the state pension age—currently one of the lowest in the world—from 60 to 65 for men and from… Read full this story
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