Russia: 1,000 detained in anti-government protests

More than 1,000 protesters were detained throughout Russia on Sunday during anti-government protests over plans to increase the pension age, an independent monitor said.

Opposition leader Alexei Navalny — currently serving a 30-day prison sentence for organizing unauthorized public events — called for the rallies, which were held in dozens of towns and cities to protest a government proposal to increase the state pension age by five years.

Read more: As Russia votes, pension protests could bring surprises

The OVD-Info group said 1,018 people were detained, with the highest number of detainees being in Russia's second-largest city, St. Petersburg, at more than 450.

A further 180 protesters were reported to have been detained in the city of Yekaterinburg, in the Ural Mountains, 60 in the southern Russian city of Krasnodar, 40 in the Siberian city of Omsk, and 40 in Russia's capital, Moscow. Demonstrators were also arrested in more than 30 other cities, the monitor said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is 65, has said that the pension age should be raised to 60 for women and 65 for men to address the increasing burden on the pension system.

Data from the World Bank in 2016 shoes that 43 percent of Russian men are not expected to reach the age of 65, with the average life expectancy for men in Russia sitting at 66 for men and 77 for women.

Protests dominate elections

Russia's elections have been overshadowed by public anger over the government's plans to raise the pension age, as the country struggles with an aging population.

A number of demonstrations have taken place to protest the proposed change in recent months, drawing thousands of people.

law/rc (dpa, Reuters)