World

Over 800 detained in Russia over pension reforms protest march

Monday, 10 September 2018 World


MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian police detained more than 800 people protesting against planned increases to the pension age on Sunday, a rights group said, disrupting demonstrations against an unpopular change that has hurt President Vladimir Putin’s approval rating.

The protests, organized by jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his supporters, were a challenge to the authorities who were hoping for a high turnout at regional elections also being held on Sunday, despite anger over the pension move.

Footage of the protests, which were held in more than 80 towns and cities, showed the police sometimes using force to disperse rallies, beating participants with batons and dragging them away. The authorities refused to authorize most of the meetings, declaring them illegal.

It said most of the detentions - 354 - had been made in St Petersburg where authorities had initially authorized a rally before reversing the decision. The interior ministry was cited by the Interfax news agency as saying police had made around 100 detentions in St Petersburg and “several” in Moscow.

The proposed pension changes, which are currently going through parliament, have shaved around 15 percentage points off Putin’s popularity rating and are the most unpopular government measure since a 2005 move to scrap Soviet-era benefits.

Over 800 detained in Russia over pension reforms protest march