News Brief

Russia Used World Cup To Bury Bad News on Pensions

The Russian authorities have been accused of using the World Cup to slip out news of a controversial change in the state retirement age, and trying to prevent the media from reporting on the decision.

Officials even seized copies of one newspaper that ignored warnings not to report on the decision to raise the pensionable age to 65 for men and 63 for women, according to The Moscow Times.

The policy change was announced by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on June 14, the same day as the FIFA World Cup soccer competition got underway in Russia amid huge publicity. Critics said the government had resorted to an old tactic of using a major news event to divert attention and drown out opposition to what is bound to be an unpopular move.

With Russia’s economy still struggling under the weight of international sanctions, officials say the reform is needed to relieve pressure on the government budget.

But it seems the government is concerned it could provoke a backlash. It even went so far as to order the Blagodarnenskiye Vesti newspaper to withdraw editions covering the policy change and reprint without the report. There is no sign of the article on their website now either.

Once the new measure comes into force, men will have to wait five years longer to claim their pension and women another eight years.