Will referendum on retirement age hike be held in Russia?

Will referendum on retirement age hike be held in Russia?

All-Russian referendum on raising the retirement age will be held if it is supported by citizens of the Russian Federation, the Central Elections Commission's secretary Maya Grishina said.

Russian election officials have cleared three proposals to hold a referendum on the controversial plan to raise the retirement age, moving forward the first referendums approved in 25 years.  

Russia’s Central Election Commission (CEC) approved all three petitions for a referendum on raising the retirement age, including from the Communist Party, RBC reported.

"Do you agree that the age at which a person has the right to receive a state pension (age 60 for men, age 55 for women), as stipulated by the Russian Federation legislation on pensions as of July 1, 2018, should not be raised?" asks the Communist Party’s framing of the question.

The CEC has also greenlighted two similarly-worded referendum petitions from the A Just Russia party and two Moscow residents.

The petition’s authors now have 45 days to collect at least 2 million signatures, according to the RTVI broadcaster.

The proposal was made by three groups of citizens from Moscow city, Moscow and Altai regions.

At least two million signatures in no less than 43 out of the 85 federal subjects are needed for the referendum to be held, head of CEC Ella Pamfilova said.

She said that the preparation for a referendum is a time-consuming process, and that in a best-case scenario the vote will be held in February or March 2019, or at least no earlier than in the end of 2018.

The vice-rector of the Academy of Labour and Social Relations Alexander Safonov, speaking to a correspondent of Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that a referendum may be held if the initiative groups, in accordance with the Law on the Referendum of the Russian Federation, collect the necessary number of signatures in the regions. After the CEC confirms that all requirements are observed, the initiative goes to the president, and he appoints a referendum.

"The government is obliged to comply with the constitutional decision. The referendum is the highest form of expressing the people's will. I have never seen the government go against the results of the referendum in Russia, it is impossible. Of course, we can expect that the Cabinet will return to the topic of raising the retirement age in the future. It is clear that if the population votes in a referendum against it, it is unlikely that the president or the government will want to discuss this topic again in the next five years," Alexander Safonov said.