Anti-Kremlin protesters rally across Russian Federation against pension age hike

The pension reform plans led to outbursts of public anger in the country

Countrywide protests against raising of the pension age, organized by supporters of opposition figure Aleksey Navalny, have ended in calls to disperse and mass arrests from the police.

Hundreds of people were arrested in Russian Federation on Sunday while participating in protests against pension reform.

Protesters say the planned reform places a strain on families trying to plan for the future.

In a nationwide day of polls, members of the ruling United Russia party also won in elections for governors and lawmakers in other Russian cities.

The issue has galvanized citizens and initially hurt the popularity of President Vladimir Putin, who in August sought to quell the discontent by suggesting amendments to dilute the proposal. The authorities refused to authorise most of the meetings, declaring them illegal.

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This is the biggest increase in rates in any fortnight since the daily price revision was introduced in mid-June previous year . The VAT on diesel and petrol was reduced by 4 per cent, a fall in the prices by Rs 2.5 per litre.

The opposition leader is barred from state TV and was stopped from running against Mr Putin for president earlier this year, and had planned to lead the fresh protest in Moscow.

OVD-Info, a rights organisation that monitors detentions, said 153 Navalny supporters had been detained by police on Sunday in 19 towns and cities, including some of Navalny's closest aides.

Some of them chanted "Russia will be free" and "Putin is a thief".

"Putin and his government have plundered the budget for the past 18 years", Mr Navalny's team said in a statement prior to Sunday's protests.

The pulled videos showed Navalny calling for Russians to demonstrate in the country to protest a plan to raise the nation's retirement age, BBC News reported. "I want to say this to older people: The young have to take the hit for us and come out because we don't".

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The government unveiled the deeply unpopular plan in June, announcing that from next year, the retirement age for men will rise from 60 to 65 and from 55 to 63 for women. Average life expectancy for men is 66 and for women 77.

Sergei Sobyanin, the Kremlin-backed incumbent mayor who has run the capital since 2010, was expected to receive about 70 percent of the vote in the Moscow mayoral election.

In 2013, Sobyanin barely escaped a second-round run-off after a strong challenge from Putin's top critic Alexei Navalny, who unexpectedly picked up over a quarter of the ballots.

They coincide with elections for 26 heads of Russia's 85 regions, including in Moscow, which are happening on Sunday. The Communist Party and United Russia got 34 percent and 27.8 percent in Irkutsk Oblast, 31 percent and 25.5 percent in Khakasia and 36.3 percent and 34 percent in Ulyanovsk Oblast, respectively.

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