21 Aug 2018 12:11

Zyuganov says 5 mln signatures collected for pension reform referendum

MOSCOW. Aug 21 (Interfax) - Russian Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov has said he believes the pension reform referendum will be successful.

"Of course, I believe that it will be held; more people are joining in and signing the petition, 5 million signatures have already been collected," Zyuganov told Interfax on Tuesday.

Zyuganov said he was skeptical about the government bill raising the retirement age by five years for men and eight years for women. "The bill will not pass as it is, and even if it is adopted [by the parliament majority], it will be a pension default followed by a political default. This is unavoidable," he said.

Referendum initiative groups are being formed, Yury Afonin, deputy chair of the Russian Communist Party Central Committee and State Duma deputy, told Interfax. "I expect over 60 groups of the kind to be created, which will meet requirements of the law," he said.

Preparations for the referendum could be completed and initiative groups could be gathered together by September 15, Afonin said. "The target date is September 15, considering that our protests are planned for September 22, and the second reading of the pension reform bill is due on September 24," he said.

The bill passed the first reading at the State Duma on July 19. Only the United Russia faction voted for, while the factions of the Russian Communist Party, the Liberal Democratic Party, and A Just Russia were against.