Popular Front: Pensions, prison and porn

RIA Novosti / Ruslan Krivobok
Vladimir Putin’s All-Russian Popular Front has published its program agenda, proposing that Russians, if they wish to, increase their pension age, that a new Penal Code be developed and a system of public control of television be introduced.

The so-called “People’s Initiatives Program” was posted on Monday on the website of the ruling United Russia party, which is chaired by Prime Minister Putin. The document will lay grounds for the faction’s program at the upcoming State Duma elections.

Among the priorities the Popular Front sets are the modernization of the economy and defense, a slowdown of inflation, fighting corruption, the development of regions, and a renewal of the political system.

In particular, the movement proposes that Russians are given a right to decide if they want to retire after reaching the pension age. Those who want to continue working for three-10 years after that will receive higher pensions.

Currently, the retirement age in Russia is 55 for women and 60 for men, which is much lower than in many European countries. But so is the life expectancy: for Russian men it is only about 63 years.

An increase of the state pension age has long been mulled over and remains one of the topical political issues. The recently fired Finance Minister Aleksey Kudrin, as well as some other members of the government and experts, had proposed to gradually push the retirement age by five years as a way to tackle the growing pension-fund deficit. In May this year, Premier Putin stated that Russia would not need to consider raising the retirement age until at least 2015. President Dmitry Medvedev said in April that the issue can be considered by the government only after a wide public discussion.

The Popular Front also suggests adopting a new Penal Code since the existing one is “scrappy” following numerous amendments, the authors of the program state. The new document should provide for a milder punishment for economic crimes and increase the number of cases when house arrest or bail could replace imprisonment.

The movement also offers to create a new investigative structure, uniting Russia’s Investigative Committee and investigative departments of the Internal Ministry, the Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Federal Drug Control Service.

The creation of some kind of public control over the morale on television is yet another initiative put forward by the Popular Front. The program authors urge the need to “protect the coming generation from movies, TV shows, computer games and internet resources that can harm their mental and moral development, contain scenes of violence, brutality, erotica, and advertise smoking and drinking alcohol.”