Putin backpedals on pension reform

In the wake of protests Russian President Vladimir Putin has watered down his pension reform plans. In a televised speech he said that the retirement age for women would be raised by five rather than eight years, to age 60. He stressed, however, that the reform remained necessary due to "serious demographic problems". Is this clever back-pedalling or a sign of weakness?

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Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

A risky admission

Russians having to work five years longer before retiring testifies to the true state of affairs in Russia, the Tages-Anzeiger points out:

“As soon as the focus switches to the state of affairs inside the country it becomes clear just how weak this supposedly so powerful state really is. ... Corruption and state controls have brought development to a standstill, and no one in the Kremlin has a clear idea of how the great leap forward that Putin has so often evoked since the start of his fourth term is supposed to work. With his televised address on Wednesday, Putin has introduced a necessary if unpopular reform. A risky step. The coming months will show whether his people are willing to go along with this too.”

Der Standard (AT) /

President saves his neck again

By making concessions on details of the pension reform Vladimir Putin has been able to escape the noose yet again, Der Standard explains:

“When it became clear that the whole thing would end in a political debacle, he beat an orderly retreat. ... The changes softening the pension reform dramatically announced on TV were no doubt prepared months in advance. They have been rolled out shortly before the regional and local elections, during which popular dissatisfaction threatened to come to a head. That was both tactically clever and true to form. Once again Putin has cast himself as the good Czar facing the evil boyars. But why shouldn't he, when this ruse has been scoring him points for the past 20 years?”

Echo of Moscow (RU) /

Putin hushing up his own mistakes

Putin has passed the buck for the pension disaster on to the population, Echo of Moscow writes with sarcasm:

“Putin openly shared his thoughts with us, explaining that he had thought about where money could be found. Should he introduce new taxes, sell public property, make reserve funds available? ... No thought was given to work. If our economy were really growing, money problems would be a thing of the past. ... The problem is that after 2000, when there were fantastic possibilities for making a new start, Putin's Russia came to a standstill for almost 20 years. And in that time the people who were so full of energy grew old, and are now approaching retirement. Only there's nothing there to pay their pensions with. And now we're being asked to show understanding.”