Protests in Russia over plans to increase the state pension age in the country continues over the weekend, with tens of thousands turning out, it has been reported. 

According to AFP, organisers said around 100,000 protesters gathered with the permitted rally against the government-backed reform. However, observers said the figure was much lower. The protests were held across numerous cities and towns. 

AFP reported that demonstrators in Moscow chanted ‘Pension-off Putin’ and carried banners with slogans including ‘We want to live on our pensions and not die at work’. 

Earlier this month the Russian government voted in favour of increasing the state pension age, resulting in protests and a drop in President Vladimir Putin’s approval ratings. The government plans to increase the state pension age for both men and women, from 60 to 65 for men, and 55 to 63 for women. 

According to AFP, 328 lawmakers in the State Duma voted in favour of the bill in its first reading, with 104 voting against. The legislation was rejected by the Communists, the Liberal Democratic Party and A Just Russia, which are usually Kremlin-friendly opposition parties. However, just one lawmaker of the ruling United Russia party voted against the bill.

It is the first planned increase to the retirement age in 90 years, AFP reported, but it has not proved popular with the Russian public. 

According to the World Health Organisation, Russian life expectancy at birth in 2016 was 66 for a man and 77 for women, giving an average of 71.5 years. AFP reported that many Russians have argued that they will not live long enough under the new system to receive the state pension, but the government has said the burden is too much for its stressed finances.

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