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Protesters In St. Petersburg Defend Social Rights

ST. PETERSBURG -- About 300 people in St. Petersburg rallied to demand that their social rights be protected, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

The demonstrators, gathering on Pionerskaya Square, were holding placards saying: "If A Russian Man's Life Expectancy Is 61, They Are Offering Pensions To Dead People!" and "Give Politicians' Salaries To Teachers And Doctors!"

The protesters also challenged recent Russian government proposals about sick-leave payments, a change in the retirement age, and construction of new infrastructure projects that they claim are harmful to the environment.

The action was organized and coordinated by the opposition Just Russia party.

Anatoly Krivenchenko, a member of Just Russia's central council, told RFE/RL that in recent years the government has been passing legislation that curtails social rights.

The retirement age for Russians is 60 years for men and 55 years for women, but the government and State Duma have been discussing a possible rise in the retirement age.