More than 800 detained in Russian Federation protests

Leroy Wright
September 12, 2018

More than 1018 people are detained at mass riots against the retirement-age increase on September 9, OVD-Info reports.

"For the first time in history, the company has satisfied the illegal demands of Russian authorities and has taken down from YouTube the paid ads promoting the rally against pensions reform", said Leonid Volkov, a close partner of the opposition leader, on the social media.

But elections were overshadowed by dissatisfaction with government plans to raise the pension age by at least five years as the country struggles with a demographic crisis.

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.

More than 2,500 people gathered in Moscow's Pushkin Square shouting "Putin is a thief!" and "No increase in the pension age!" Navalny has likened Putin to an autocratic tsar who has clung to power for too long.

The scale of the electoral setbacks for United Russia is "a unique situation", said Dmitry Orlov, a political analyst who's a member of the party's supreme council.

United Russia also failed to win a majority in regional parliaments in the Khakasia and Irkutsk regions, where it finished behind the Communists.

"This is a path towards political competition", Makarkin told AFP.

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

The website for Russia's interior ministry didn't confirm the number of detentions, but a senior ministry official said around 100 people were detained in St. Petersburg and "a few people" were held in Moscow for violating the law, Russian news agency Interfax reported. At the same time, there were journalists among the detainees in Yekaterinburg.

In a statement, Google-owned YouTube said it considered all all valid requests from governmental bodies, adding: "We require advertisers to comply with local law and our general advertising policies".

Observers noted fewer people turned up to protest against the reform than in May after Putin softened the pension reform.

The pension reform plan envisages gradually increasing the retirement age to 65 by 2028 from 60 now for men and to 60 by 2034 from 55 now for women.

Supporters say Sobyanin has transformed the city with billion-dollar renovation projects that include a showpiece central park and new pedestrian areas along with a string of new metro stations.

But critics argue these were a sop to a new urban middle class which has in the past protested against Putin's rule, as the Kremlin tightens the screws against dissenters.

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