Football World Cup matters more for Russians than upcoming pension reform – poll

Football World Cup matters more for Russians than upcoming pension reform – poll
Over half of the Russian public sees the ongoing 2018 World Cup as the most important and vivid event of the month, with less than a third attaching importance to the coming increase in the retirement age and other problems.

The latest poll conducted by independent Russian public opinion research center Levada reveals that 56 percent of Russians consider the football championship in their country “the most vivid” event of the past four weeks. Thirty-one percent say the recently announced pension reform, including the raising of the retirement age, is first among the most memorable events, and 13 percent say that for them it is the recent hike in prices.

The interest in football in Russia is unprecedented and various activists and politicians are attempting to ride the hype to promote their ideas, as well as themselves. MP Vitaly Milonov of the parliamentary majority party United Russia addressed the Education Ministry with a proposal to start giving lessons in hospitality in schools. In the letter, the lawmaker said that Russia would continue to host major sports and cultural events and face a growing influx of tourists, which means that ordinary citizens should be ready for communication with people of different languages and cultures.

When our compatriots meet tourists from Iran, Korea, Japan or any other exotic country there is a danger that different understanding of, for example, sign language would lead to unpleasant incidents,” Milonov wrote, adding that even Russians’ openness and generosity can scare and puzzle foreigners.

Pension reform came under the spotlight of the Russian media in mid-June when the government drafted into parliament a bill allowing a step-by step increase in the retirement age, starting from 2019. The existing draft raises the retirement age from the current 60 to 65 years by 2028 for men, and from 55 to 63 for women by 2034. The bill allows for some exceptions and upholds the existing rules on early retirement for people in risky professions, the disabled, and for women with many children.

Not surprisingly, the bill has been met with protests from opposition parties and the media, and several protest rallies were held across the country over the past weekend. However, both the police and opposition activists estimated the number of protesters at the rallies to be low, sometimes just a few hundred people in a city with a million people.

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