Russia protests: More than 1,000 detained at demonstrations over retirement age increase

Footage shows police beating people with batons and dragging them away

Police officers detain a young man during a protest rally against planned increases to the nationwide pension age in St Petersburg
Police officers detain a young man during a protest rally against planned increases to the nationwide pension age in St Petersburg

More than 1,000 protesters have been arrested in Russia at anti-government demonstrations against planned increases to the pension age.

Footage of the protests showed police used force to disperse the rallies, beating demonstrators with batons and dragging them away.

At least 1,018 people were detained during demonstrations on Sunday according to the OVD-Info group, which tracks police detentions and posts the names of the detainees on its website.

Police officers detain protesters during a demonstration in St Petersburg

It said 452 of the detainees were rounded up in St Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city, which saw riot police charging at protesters with batons.

Vladimir Putin‘s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the police acted in accordance with the law in response to unauthorised protests.

The protests took place in more than 80 towns and cities and were organised by the jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his supporters.

Mr Navalny had intended to lead the protest on Sunday, but last month a court convicted him of breaking protest laws and jailed him for 30 days in a move which he said was designed to derail the protests.

On Monday, several activists tried to launch another protest in a tree-lined boulevard in central Moscow but were quickly rounded up by police.

Police used batons and blocked the protesters’ path in Moscow

The government’s plan calls for the eligibility age for retirement pensions to be raised by five years, to 65 for men and 60 for women.

In Russia, the average life expectancy is 66 for men and 77 for women.

The proposal has irked both older Russians, who fear they won’t live long enough to collect significant benefits, and younger generations worried that keeping people in the workforce longer will limit their own employment opportunities.

It has also dented Mr Putin’s popularity, which fell by around 15 per cent.

Although the Russian president has offered some concessions, he argues the age hike is necessary because rising life expectancy in Russia could exhaust pension resources if the eligibility age remains the same.

Additional reporting by agencies

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