Hundreds Arrested in Russia Protesting Pension Reform

Hundreds Arrested in Russia Protesting Pension Reform

Hundreds Arrested in Russia Protesting Pension Reform

Jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny had called for the protests.

Navalny reportedly said his arrest was an attempt to derail Sunday's planned protests.

Moscow police authorities reported that one person was detained for attacking a police officer and that a criminal case has been opened against that individual, local media reported. An Associated Press journalist counted at least 30 people detained at the St. Petersburg protest, which was adjacent to the Finlad Station rail terminal.

Police on September 9 detained 839 people at the election-day protests, which were held in dozens of cities and towns across Russian Federation, according to OVD-Info.

OVD-Info, a rights organisation that monitors detentions, said 839 people had been detained by police on Sunday in 33 cities, including some of Navalny's closest aides.

Pension reforms have caused widespread public anger, and Mr Navalny's supporters have planned rallies in more than 80 cities to capitalise on this.

The elections, which included a vote on executive-branch heads in 21 of Russia's 85 administrative areas, was the first major test for the government of President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev since it proposed raising the retirement age.

"These elections are a defeat for the authorities", said Valery Solovei, a political analyst at the Moscow State Institute for International Relations.

In St. Petersburg, a crowd of around 1,000 people shouted "shame" and held signs calling for Putin's resignation.

Navalny, the anti-corruption activist who is Putin's most visible foe, had called for protests against the government's pension proposal before he was sentenced to 30 days in jail for organizing an unsanctioned January protest over a different issue.

Sergei Sobyanin, mayor of the Russian capital since 2010, received 70.02 percent of the vote, according to results released by the Moscow election commission.

Opponents of the pension reforms, which envisage raising the retirement age for men to 65 from 60 and to 60 from 55 for women, staged protests across Russian Federation as voting took place.

Data from the World Bank in 2016 shoes that 43 percent of Russian men are not expected to reach the age of 65, with the average life expectancy for men in Russia sitting at 66 for men and 77 for women.

The protests delt a blow to authorities hoping for high voter turnout at regional elections also being held on Sunday. Opinion polls put Navalny's support in the single digits, but backers note he won nearly a third of the vote in a 2013 Moscow mayoral race, and believe he could give Putin a run for his money if ever allowed to run against him on a level playing field.

In the far eastern city of Khabarovsk and in the Primorye, Khakasia and Vladimir regions, gubernatorial elections will go to a second round after United Russia candidates failed to win 50 percent of the vote.

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