'Hundreds Detained' As Kremlin Opponents Protest Pension-Reform Plan On Election Day
RFE/RL - Thousands of anti-Kremlin demonstrators have taken to the streets in Russia to protest the government's plan to raise the retirement age in rallies coinciding with regional and local elections nationwide, triggering tense confrontations with police and resulting in hundreds of detentions, according to a rights-monitoring group.
The Russian news portal OVD-Info, which tracks the arrest of protesters, said more than 830 demonstrators were detained on September 9 at protests in 33 towns and cities across Russia. The largest number was in St. Petersburg, Russia's second-largest city, where 354 demonstrators were held, OVD-Info reported.
The rallies were announced last month by opposition politician Aleksei Navalny, who is currently serving a 30-day jail sentence for what authorities call violations of the law on public gatherings related to street rallies in January.
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.
The original plan would have increased the retirement age for men from the current 60 to 65, and from 55 to 63 for women. Later Putin modified the proposal so women would retire at age 60.
According to various polls, about 90 percent of Russians oppose the plan to raise the retirement age, and a recent poll by the Levada Center polling agency found that more than 50 percent of Russians say they would participate in protests against it.
Police on September 9 detained 839 people at the election-day protests, including 354 in St. Petersburg, 129 in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg, 60 in...