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Senior citizens enjoy Russian government’s growing care

October 01, 2014, 18:42 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila
© TASS/Pavel Smertin

MOSCOW, October 1. /TASS/. Yesterday was your last day at work and as of today you are on pension? Congratulations! Time is ripe for you to go and learn something new. A friend of mine, Yelena, 60, back in her younger days graduated from a junior college of commerce to have worked all her life at a big department store. Shortly after retirement she entered a distance learning department of a teacher training institute.

“Just for the sake of self-esteem,” she said. Higher education went hand in hand with new interests - books, personal computer, and fitness classes.

To earn a better living (her retirement pension is surely modest to say the least) Yelena does house work for a family of means whom she knows well and who know her well enough, too. She never wastes her extra earnings on trifles: she has already saved enough for a trip to Paris. Also, she has bought a club card and goes to a fitness center, where she attends pilates classes, swims in the pool, and rides a bicycle in the summer and skis in winter. Besides, she has suddenly developed an interest in esotericism. She has a daughter and a son and four grandchildren.

I just cannot but wonder at the sight of such transformations in the life and character of a former Soviet-era shop assistant. Retirees these days are much different from what they used to be just recently, and the government is doing a great deal to help them live an active life. Today is marked as International Day of Older Persons. Over the past twenty years the position of pensioners in Russia has changed a lot, although problems in the socio-economic sphere are still many.

Russia holds 65th line on the annual rating list of 96 countries in terms of the quality of life for people over 60 years of age, just published by the non-governmental organization Help-Age International. Of course, it is still a very long way to the top, but in contrast to the previously taken 78th place this is quite an achievement.

“The government does a great deal for retirees. The level of pension insurance has been up considerably over the past ten years,” the chief of the social systems studies and social forecasting laboratory at the Russian Academy of Economics and the Civil Service, Yelena Grishina, has told TASS. With various surpluses and fringe benefits that adjust pensions to the subsistence level poverty-related risks for older people are considerably smaller than those for the rest of the population.

According to Russia’s Pension Fund Russia on December 31, 2013 had 41.4 million retirees. Under a rule effective since January 1, 2010 the level of material support for unemployed pensioners cannot be below the subsistence level. The old age retirement pension on April 1, 2014 averaged 11.546 roubles (roughly 300 US dollars), or 1.72 subsistence levels of a pensioner. Also, there has developed a distinct trend showing old people prefer to keep working after retirement. These days one in three pensioners keep working after they reach the retirement age.

Quite a lot is being done in terms of helping senior citizens and acquiring new knowledge. “They can attend free training and retraining courses and learn something useful, for instance, to get on friendly terms with the home PC,” Labour and Social Protection Minister Maksim Topilin told the government-published Rossiiskaya Gazeta. “A corresponding law was adopted last year.”

The system of education for post-retirement age Russians is developing, although not as fast as it should, the director of the Human Resources Monitoring Centre at the Russian Academy of Economics and Civil Service, Viktor Galichin, has told TASS. In his opinion the Scandinavian countries might serve as an example worth following.

“The demographic situation as it is, from the socio-economic standpoint this group of people should enjoy far greater attention, which would let them develop new skills and take new niches on the market of labour,” he remarked.


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