World Cup Exit Strips Putin Of Cover For Pension Reforms | 7/6/2018 | Staff
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MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s elimination from the soccer World Cup on Saturday poses a challenge for the Kremlin: How to manage public anger over reforms that will hit voters’ pockets without the distraction of national sporting success.

After months of delaying a change it knew was liable to anger voters, the government said it was pushing back the retirement age. It made the announcement on the day of the tournament’s opening game, when many Russians were distracted by their team’s emphatic win against Saudi Arabia.

Putin - Popularity - Rating - Dip - Opinion

Since then, Putin’s popularity rating has suffered a rare dip, opinion polls show. A separate survey found that most Russians take a negative view of the plan to raise the pension age to 65 from 60 for men and to 63 from 55 for women.

Russia’s unexpected passage to the quarter-finals — their best World Cup since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union — has captivated the nation and kept the reform out of mind.

Saturday - Defeat - Croatia - Tournament - July

But after Saturday’s defeat to Croatia and with the tournament due to end on July 15, the reforms are bound to resurface in Russia’s collective psyche, political analysts say.

Though perceived outside Russia as an all-powerful ruler unruffled by what people think, Putin’s authority in fact depends in large part on his ability to command popular support, which he and his aides devote massive energy to nurturing.

Backlash - Officials - Ways - Pension - Reform

Following the polling backlash, officials were now considering ways to soften the pension reform, two sources familiar with discussions told Reuters.

“Any victory comes and goes. People forget,” said Nikolai Petrov, a political analyst at...
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