Author`s name Ольга Савка

Russian pensioners block traffic protesting against elimination of state benefits

Thousands of Russian elderly people went out in the streets demanding the return of Soviet benefits

The project of the Russian government to abolish the Soviet system of state benefits and replace them with financial support has not evoked any enthusiastic feelings in the Russian population. The people did not believe the fairy tale. Moreover, the government's reform to eliminate state benefits has become a shock for the Russian society. The first announcement of the reform exerted a rather negative influence on the rating of the Russian government.

Residents of five Russian cities went out in the streets yesterday to protest against the reform. Needless to say that the meetings were not authorized. In Samara, 80 pensioners blocked traffic in the city center. The chairman of the Internal Affairs Department in Samara, Valery Trofimov, stated that the pensioners did not have a permission to carry out the action. When spokespeople for the city authorities came to protesters and clarified all points of organizing such meetings, they all went to their homes. The police did not have to use force; the action lasted only for an hour.

The meeting of protest in the Moscow region gathered a lot more people, though. Pensioners organized their action of protest on a major highway in the morning of January 10th. About 300 people came to the meeting, news agencies report. The pensioners blocked traffic on the busy highway for three hours. The police drove the indignant pensioners off the highway and tried to explain the situation to them. The pensioners decided to finish their action and went home.

A source in the law-enforcement agencies told RIA Novosti yesterday that the authorities filed a criminal case against the people, who came to participate in the meeting of protest in the Moscow region. Law-enforcement officers believed that the pensioners' actions could be categorized as an administrative breach. Reports were drawn up against 12 pensioners.

About 30 elderly people blocked the tram traffic in Russia's Belgorod region on Monday protesting against the elimination of the public transportation benefit for pensioners.

Most massive actions of protest took place in the cities of Ufa (the Bashkiria republic) and Almetyevsk (the Tatarstan republic). About 4,000 residents went into the streets of Ufa asking to raise compensations, retrieve the right to use the public transport free of charge and take urgent measures to stop the “catastrophic growth of prices” on bread, petrol and other vital consumer goods. Five thousand people took part in the meeting of protest in the city of Almetyevsk. The city residents gathered on the central square asking the government to retrieve the free urban transport for pensioners and cancel the 100-percent payment for public utilities. The traffic in the city was blocked during the meeting. The police and spokespeople for local authorities persuaded the elderly people to go home.

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