Russian President Putin gifts pensioners cash payments ahead of polls

In a meeting with United Russia officials on Sunday, Putin said that pensioners had been hit hardest by this year's soaring inflation. 

Published: 24th August 2021 04:55 PM  |   Last Updated: 24th August 2021 04:55 PM   |  A+A-

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin (Photo | AP)


MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday ordered pensioners get $135 in a bid to drum up support ahead of parliamentary elections next month that could see the unpopular ruling United Russia party struggle.

The cash handouts come as part of a litany of social spending sweeteners Putin has proposed ahead of September's lower house State Duma polls, with United Russia's ratings dented by rising prices and falling wages.

According to a Kremlin statement, the Russian president ordered payments of 10,000 rubles ($135) to be handed out in September, effectively doubling the monthly state pension which is roughly the same amount.

In a meeting with United Russia officials on Sunday, Putin said that pensioners had been hit hardest by this year's soaring inflation. 

Annual inflation has reached 6.5 percent, according to the central bank, which in June hiked its key interest rate to the same figure -- its biggest increase since a 2014 currency crisis.

Putin on Sunday also proposed giving 15,000-ruble bonuses to military staff.

In June he promised to spend billions on repairing roads and developing public transport, infrastructure and healthcare. 

United Russia's ratings started falling steeply in 2018 after the government passed a controversial pension reform plan that raised the retirement age.

The move came as Russia's economy had been stagnating, battered by waves of Western sanctions after Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014. 

Ahead of next month's election, United Russia is polling around 30 percent, according to state-run pollster VTsIOM -- a 10-point drop from the last lower house elections in 2016.

The party currently controls 75 percent of seats in the State Duma, with the rest held by parties widely seen as doing the Kremlin's bidding.

In the run-up to the elections, Russian authorities have waged a crackdown on the opposition and independent voices.

Jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny has seen his organisations declared "extremist" and banned in the country.

His top allies have fled the country or been placed under house arrest. 


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