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Russia’s electoral chief backs referendum on retirement age, notes wording is crucial

The bill on raising the retirement age in the country to 63 years from 55 years for women and to 65 years from 60 years for men has sparked an uproar in society

MOSCOW, July 27. /TASS/. Russia’s Central Election Committee (CEC) believes that a proposal on holding a referendum to raise the retirement age is legitimate but everything depends on the wording of the question in the referendum, CEC Chairperson Ella Pamfilova said on Friday.

The Russian government’s bill recently submitted to the national parliament on raising the retirement age in the country to 63 years from 55 years for women and to 65 years from 60 years for men has sparked an uproar in society. Russia’s Communist Party (KPRF) has come up with a proposal to hold a nationwide plebiscite asking citizens to answer the following question: "Do You Agree that the Age in the Russian Federation Entitling Citizens to Old-Age Insurance Pension Should Not Be Raised?"

"I want to state the consolidated position of the CEC members on this issue. Raising [the question] of holding a referendum on such a burning issue, which affects every person, is legitimate. Our citizens have the right to express their opinion on how the pension system should be," Russia’s electoral chief stressed.

"But it is the details that matter," she added.

The head of Russia’s Central Election Committee noted, "What mattered was "the quality of the question [proposed for the referendum]," that is, its wording.

Arranging the referendum

A nationwide referendum requires that initiative sub-groups numbering no less than 100 individuals should hold conventions in more than half of Russian regions (namely, in at least 43 constituent entities). After the sub-groups are successfully registered in 43 regions, they hold conventions of their authorized representatives, after which they file petitions to the Central Electoral Committee on the registration of the initiative group to hold the referendum. If a positive decision is made, the initiative group should gather no less than 2 million signatures within 45 days but with no more than 50,000 such signatures per region.

After checking the signatures, the Central Electoral Committee will adopt a decision that all the required procedures have been complied with and then the Russian president schedules the referendum, CEC Secretary Maya Grishina earlier told TASS.

Bill to hike Russia’s retirement age

The government-proposed bill passed the first reading in the State Duma on July 19. After that, a large-scale discussion on the suggested legislation will continue and proposals on the draft law will be collected and subsequently registered as amendments for the second reading that will be held in autumn. The term of submitting amendments has been extended from August 18 to September 24.

The Russian government announced that the revenues, which the retirement age hikes will generate, would be channeled into increasing pensions for current pensioners. According to the government, the bill’s adoption will provide higher pensions for non-working citizens by an average of 1,000 rubles ($16) from 2019.