On March 23, thousands of Russians hit the streets in several parts of the country, protesting the increase in political repressions and the declining living standards. The call for the nation-wide protest was given by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF), in defense of workers’ rights.
The protests happened in the wake of the recent attempts by President Vladimir Putin to curb dissent in the country. Earlier this week, Putin approved legislations that allow courts to fine and incarcerate people for showing disrespect towards authorities, and to censor media for publishing “fake news”. It has been widely claimed that the new law, criminalising “disrespect” for Russian society and institutions, might lead to the end of the country’s few remaining legal forms of protests. In December 2018, the Russian lawmakers had approved a draft legislation that made it a jailable offense to call on teenagers to attend unauthorised street protests.
The CPRF chairman, Gennady Zyuganov, said, “Across Russia, rallies are now taking place in defense of the social and economic rights of workers, for the country’s security, for its integrity and unity. We must perfectly understand that our country has never been thrown into such formidable challenges as we see today, not even in the time when we fought and defeated the Nazis.”
A few months back, widespread protests were organised by the CPRF and other opposition parties against the controversial pension reforms implemented by Putin’s administration. The reform increased the retirement age from 60 to 65 for men, and from 55 to 63 for women. The reform meant that an average Russian had to work for almost the entirety of their adult life to be eligible for pension.