Russians vote as opposition calls protests

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Opposition leader Alexei Navalny called for rallies throughout the country and ran advertisements on YouTube encouraging the demonstrations, which Google later removed at the request of Russian officials, The Guardian reported.

Police officers detain a protester during a rally against planned increases to the nationwide pension age in Moscow, Russia, on September 9, 2018.

Hundreds of people were arrested in Russian Federation on Sunday while participating in protests against pension reform.

Ahead of the vote a Moscow court jailed Navalny for 30 days after he announced plans to stage a rally against pension reform on election day. The ruling party also lost seats in some regional parliaments to members of the Communist Party and the Liberal Democratic Party of Russian Federation, the news agencies reported, citing election officials.

The proposed pension changes, which are now going through parliament, have shaved around 15 percentage points off President Vladimir Putin's popularity rating.

Incumbent Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin was re-elected with 70% of the vote, state-controlled news agency TASS reported.

The videos saw Navalny calling on Russians to protest against raising the retirement age, on the same day as the vote, Reuters reports.

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The pension reform plan envisages gradually increasing the retirement age to 65 by 2028 from 60 now for men and to 60 by 2034 from 55 now for women.

According to OVD-Info, a group that monitors police detentions, some 1,018 were detained across 19 cities on Sunday, with the majority being held in St. Petersburg, Russia's second-largest city. But despite a huge get-out-the-vote campaign, turnout was just 30 percent as many Muscovites stayed away.

The OVD-Info group, which tracks police detentions and posts the names of the detainees on its website, said Monday that 1,018 people were detained, almost half of them in St. Petersburg.

On a single day of voting on September 9, mass riots of the supporters of Navalny took place throughout Russian Federation. The average life expectancy in the country is 66 for men and 77 for women.

Moscow authorities estimated that around 2,000 people went on several organized marches through the city center, which were scheduled to coincide with mayoral elections in the capital, also taking place on Sunday.

The scale of the electoral setbacks for United Russia is "a unique situation", said Dmitry Orlov, a political analyst who's a member of the party's supreme council.

But critics argue these are a sop to a new urban middle class which has in the past protested against Putin's rule, as the Kremlin continues to crack down on political freedoms.