Russian Government Submits Bill On Raising Retirement Age

The Russian government has submitted proposed pension-reform legislation that would raise the retirement age -- long a sensitive issue in Russia.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed an order on June 16 sending the bill to Russia's lower house of parliament for consideration.

The move comes a day after the Kremlin distanced President Vladimir Putin from the reform plan.

His spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters on June 15 that Putin's 2005 promise not to increase the pension age as president was made long ago and "the situation has changed since then."

"The matter is being worked out by the government. The president is not taking part in that process," Peskov added.

The bill proposes raising the retirement age from 60 to 65 by 2028 for men and from 55 to 63 for women by 2034.

The changes would shorten the retirement period for many people in Russia, where current life expectancy for men is 68.

Putin would have final say on the pension-reform plan, which must be adopted by parliament before it goes to the president for signature or veto.

Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said on June 16 that under the proposed reforms, the annual income of pensioners would rise on average by 12,000 rubles ($190) beginning next year.

There has been talk for years of raising Russia's low retirement age in order to bolster its pension system, which is also strained by low life expectancy and a population size that the United Nations has forecast to shrink by some 10 percent -- to 132.7 million -- by 2050.

Observers had predicted that Putin might finally endorse an increase, which carries a potential political risk, after securing a new six-year term in in the March presidential election.

With reporting by Interfax and Vedomosti