Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/382/4312
Russian pensioners put pressure on Putin
ON 12 February, nearly 300 demonstrations took place in 77 regions across Russia. Most were called by political alliances of various parties especially, but not only, on the left. Red flags were much in evidence.
They aimed to keep up pressure on the Putin government following the wave of mass protests by pensioners and others against the 'monetisation' (reduction) of their benefits.
A few other demonstrations were organised simultaneously by government forces, bringing well-dressed men and women onto the streets to express their confidence in Putin's policies. (Transport, food and TV coverage guaranteed!).
The Putin government's popularity has plummeted, particularly over the treatment of the pensioners, in the context of an expanding economy and massive oil revenues.
Friends of mine on pensions or invalidity benefits told me they had to laugh or they would cry. In one meeting a local bureaucrat tried to explain how they could manage on their 260 roubles ($8) payment and how there would be at least two categories of people allowed totally free transport - those who were completely physically paralysed and those with no legs!
The government has been forced to retreat to some extent, making concessions and apologising for the way they were implemented. Throwing blame onto the local authorities for the way the new 'law' was implemented has meant some of them, at least temporarily, re-introducing free transport.
It also opens the way for socialists and others to demand that local councils refuse to implement the cuts and demand more money from central government, as in Liverpool council's mass campaign in Britain in the 1980s.
In The Socialist 26 February 2005: