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Russia: Age Restrictions for Senior Government Officials Will Be Loosened

(Oct. 4, 2012) On September 4, 2012, President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation submitted to the State Duma (the country’s legislature) a proposal to amend the Federal Law on Civil Service. The amendment is aimed at increasing the mandatory retirement age for the highest-level government officials, from 65 years to 70. As the proposal states, this amendment is needed to “keep highly qualified senior executive officers at work.” (Putin Promotes the Law on Kremlin Elders, Abolishing Medvedev’s Amendments [in Russian], NEWSRU.COM (Sept. 4, 2012).)

At present the mandatory retirement age for Russian government employees is 60, but it can be extended to 65 by the employer. Earlier this year, a service extension above 70 years of age was granted to judges and to high-ranking law enforcement officials. (President Putin Terminates Age Limits for the Chief Justice [in Russian], NEWSRU.COM (May 10, 2012; updated July 13, 2012).)

Under the proposed amendment, the retirement age extension could be granted only by the Head of State. Due to this provision, observers have concluded that the goal of this legislation is “not to respond to the normal aging of the Russian workforce but to legitimate the lack of changes within the Russian bureaucratic elite” and “secure [Putin’s] right to age in office together with his most trusted allies.” (Age Changes (editorial) [in Russian], GAZETA.RU (Sept. 4, 2012).) Most of Putin’s closest staffers and highest government officials are now over 60 years of age. Under the current law, they would have to retire in a very short time, during Putin’s current presidential term, which ends in 2018. (Id.)

The retirement age extension appears to be in line with amendments to the Federal Law on Courts of General Jurisdiction recently introduced by the President, which would eliminate the limit of two terms for heads of federal regional courts. It is believed that this amendment, when adopted, will make the Russian judiciary even more loyal to the executive branch. (Ekaterina Vinokurova, Sudit Vechno [Judge Forever], GAZETA.RU (Oct. 1, 2012).)

Some commentators have concluded that the retirement age extension may be the beginning of a gradual change in retirement policies and will lead to an increase in the retirement eligibility age for the rest of the population. (Vitaly Ostrovski, Increase of Retirement Age of Civil Servants Is Probably a Signal for Pension Reform [in Russian], KOMMERSANT FM (Sept. 4, 2012).)