The Saker: “Putin’s Pension Reform Tour De Force”

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Written by The Saker; Originally appeared at his blog

Today, after waiting for as long as possible, President Putin finally addressed the Russian people on the topic of pension reform and presented his own take of this matter.  When the lazy clowns who run the Russian presidential website finally are done translating the full text, it will appear here: http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/58405.  You can also check a good summary made by RT here: https://www.rt.com/politics/437112-putin-on-changes-in-russian/.  My purpose today is not to comment on the substance of what Putin said, but on the political dimension of his move.

First, his speech was nothing short of brilliant.  Putin readily admitted that this was a very controversial topic and that his own views on the matter have changed because the Russian economy has evolved and also fundamentally changed.  By saying this he skillfully deflected the criticism that he has flip-flopped on this issue.

Second, Putin did say that while the proposed reform was controversial, opposition parties did seize this opportunity to score points.  Putin had to say that because all the political parties in the Duma rejected this proposal and asked for a referendum or the resignation of the Medvedev government.  Only “United Russia” (minus one person) voted for this project and it appears that the majority of the Russian people also opposed it.  This is why Putin also added that there were some constructive proposals which should be adopted in the final law.  In other words, Putin did not appear to “backtrack” or “make concessions”, but he did show his willingness to listen to the opposition and the Russian people.

Third, Putin did offer some concessions/amendments which ought to address, at least to some degree, some of the concerns of those opposed to this project.  Most importantly, Putin did say that other options had been considered, but that this was the only realistic and responsible one.  Putin thus placed the responsibility to come up with a better plan on the opposition and indicated that no such plan would work.

All this is very important because for the first time since 1993 the Russian President is facing not a fake “court” opposition or some agents of influence paid for by the Empire, but a real and patriotic opposition which supports Putin but not Medvedev and his government.  Up until this summer, the Duma opposition parties were, frankly, mostly “pretend opposition” parties who did not really matter, but with the controversy over pension reform this has now changed this and Putin has skillfully adapted to the situation: he succeeded in striking a very precise balance between appearing to be in full agreement with the Medvedev government and caving in to opposition demands.  By addressing the Russian people directly and by appealing to their understanding for what are admittedly tough choices Putin has, yet again, successfully managed to use his immense personal political capital to extricate himself from a potentially dangerous (in political terms) situation.

It will be interesting to observe in the next days and week how the main leaders of the opposition chose to respond to Putin’s message.  My feeling is that they will have to tone down the vehemence of their criticism lest they come across as engaging in petty politics for purely political games.  On substance, however, the problem remains far from solved and there is a very real possibility that Putin and, even more so, Medvedev will have to offer further concessions.

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  • jade villaceran

    How powerful is medvedev in russia? How he can influence the decision of putin?

    • seawolf

      Medvedev represents the oligarchs and the surrounding ruling elite. Putin is powerful because he has the people with him and the army, but he has to be careful with his concessions to the oligarchs and he has done many lately

      • putinbeater

        putin was put in his position by oligarchs. anatoliy sobchak is his tutor.

  • Tudor Miron

    Thats a tough one. BTW, what is normal retirement age in US, Europe?

    • Vincent Van Zyl

      I can’t talk for Europe, but here in South Africa, the retirement age of 60 for men. Women was 55, but not sure if that’s changed recently it not. But men’s retirement age didn’t change this year and remained at 60

      • Tudor Miron

        Best numbers so far – exactly what it is here now without reform. Offered is 65 men and 60 for women.

    • Mikronos

      Canada currently 67 for government benefits..

      • Concrete Mike

        Indeed it was 65 for the longest time but it was bumped up a few years ago.

    • John Whitehot

      66 years and 7 months of age OR 44 years and 3 months of work, some parts of EU.

    • matt

      How come you suddenly want to compare with the evil west?

      • Tudor Miron

        I’m comparing with the world around.

        • matt

          Ooh, i guess i missed Asia, Africa, Latin America and Australia in your comment then….

          • Tudor Miron

            As always. You miss something.

    • putinbeater

      at least 62 for men, usually the women same as men. in poland will enhanced to 67 for men. trues, western antions are not heavy vodka-drinkers.

  • seawolf

    There is nothing significant in this article. Are you for this reform or against Saker?
    Oh sorry I have to go to his blog lol

  • hhabana

    The people of Russia have to stay strong during this time of economic war being waged by western powers. Suffer a little now or be a slave later and suffer greatly. Typical stupid human behavior.

    This is the time for those folks in Russia that have the ideas and backbone to create solutions that are people based, not government, to help those in need and to provide their elected representatives with suggestions.

    • Sue Thomas

      Tosh. A small increase on the LOW Taxes of Oil/Gas or a levy on Russia’s 50 richest men would inject enough capital into pension funds that this wouldn’t be necessary. Russia First=BILLIONAIRES FIRST

      • Tudor Miron

        It was addressed and proven that 50 reachest would give enough money for two days of pensions payment by pension fund. Oil/Gas would give 2 months. Those solutions would not solve the problem of having 1,2 working people vs 1 receiving pensions. People don’t like it anyway and that’s understandable.

        • putinbeater

          casrstiker, oligarchslicker tidor miron, troll from moscow

          • Tudor Miron

            Solomoisha, here you are :) People were worried about you – novichok, you know and all that kind of stuff. But I told them don’t worry – nothing will happen to Solomoisha. $hit doesn’t sink.

          • putinbeater

            But Russia sinks.

          • Tudor Miron

            You bet it does :) Solomoisha, I can literally feel your endless pain. You hatred towards Russia is ripping you apart and there’s no sign that your hopes have an chance. Keep hating Solomoisha, it doesn’t do you any good but it is entertaining to watch.

          • putinbeater

            i have no pain, because you ruskies ar far from us. i am happy, that you left us.

        • seawolf

          what are you talking about? where did you find these figures? Russia is the richest country in the word. How Soviet Union could afford free education, free health care for all and the pension system and being a supper power at the same time? Because there were no oligarchs, no private banks, all the wealth was public. Capitalism is the problem my friend wake up.

  • Sue Thomas

    Rubbish. He sheltered his Billionaires. All he had to do was increase Tax on Oil/Gas Co’s by 5%. But no, the entire population must work for another 5 years.

  • Sue Thomas

    RUSSIA FIRST=BILLIONAIRES FIRST

  • nesa

    1999 -2019, nothing changes in Russia. Putin was, is and will be to the end the King of oligarchs. He was put in place “not to abolish the Law but to uphold it” (Matthew 5:17). His promises made to the “family” are not negotiable. I don’t think that the Russian people truly believe that Putin is on their side.

    • John Whitehot

      ” I don’t think that the Russian people truly believe that Putin is on their side”

      Much more than Israelis believe bibi’s on theirs.

  • John Whitehot

    how exactly is pension reforms related to military geopolitical themes?

    • putinbeater

      without reform there is not enough money for military

      • John Whitehot

        ahhhh that makes a lot of sense.

  • putinbeater

    naked russia

  • Alex Popoff

    The problem with pension funds goes from “siloviki” whose maximal pension age is 45. Putin didn’t address this issue at all. Police, militaries, security servicemens goes to pension at 36-45, this means that pushing pension age to 65 only make siloviki pensions share bigger in the pensions spendings.

    Russia is the first country in the world in terms of police officers per capita. But instead of reducing siloviki numbers people should go to retirement at 65 feeding 40-45 years old police and FSB pensioners. Contry of exploitation and inequalities.

    • John Whitehot

      “Russia is the first country in the world in terms of police officers per capita”

      this is the ultimate bullshit.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_and_dependencies_by_number_of_police_officers

      you all suck.

      • Alex Popoff

        This is numbers only for ministry of internal affairs, they dont include number of penitentiary system officers (which is BIG in Russia), special services, rosgvardia, investigative commetee, etc.

        I know what I’m talking about.

        • John Whitehot

          no, you don’t

          the argument you use may well be applied to all the other countries of the list, like 4ex. in the US there is thousands of different policing agencies going from city, county, state, federal and so on; without considering paramilitary, military and mercenary organization.

          basically these stats are just indicative, using them just stands out as a propaganda attempt, which in your case, oh what a surprise, is anti-Russian.

          • Alex Popoff

            Senseless talk with someone who don’t live in Russia and don’t know it’s realities.

          • John Whitehot

            nice try.

            now wait the next train, possibly standing on the tracks.