Vladimir Putin faced the biggest challenge to his authority in years this weekend as thousands of people protested against his raising the state pension age across Russia. More than 800 people, many of them supporters of the opposition activist Alexei Navalny, who called for the protests from his jail cell, were arrested and police in Moscow were capturing beating members of a crowd of about 5,000 with truncheons in Pushkin Square, according to video published by the opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta. The increases to state pension ages—from 60 to 65 for men and from 55 to 63 for women—have seen Putin’s popularity ratings plummet. Putin has said the pension changes were necessary to stabilize Russia’s government spending.
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