United Russia member proposes shipping pensioners abroad

A radical way of improving Russian pensioners’ lives has been put forward by a United Russia member.

Instead of raising pensions, the activist has proposed shipping Russia’s elderly abroad, where it would be much cheaper to live.

According to his calculations, the average Russian pension of $200 a month would be enough to lead a decent life in Latvia, Uzbekistan, India or Bulgaria, while a Moscow pensioner’s $330 would make for a good standard of living in Turkey or Egypt.

As an example, he cited the experience of the1990s when many pensioners emigrated to Israel, Germany, Egypt and Bulgaria. Even now, he added, many well-off Russian send their parents abroad to live in a nice house on the sea shore where their grandchildren often come to enjoy the fresh air.

“We have a choice – either to keep raising pensions, give subsidies and invest money into pensioner-support programs; or to help them move, saving up for the budget and really helping people out,” the activist said.

The idea faced a mixed reaction – both within United Russia and among its critics.

The head of the party’s labor committee called the idea “crazy” and promised that Russian citizens would stay in Russia.

Some media voices pointed out that the initiative might be an attempt to win the votes of pensioners, who remain Russia’s most active electorate.

There are currently over 40 million pensioners in Russia – most of whom live very frugally.

This is not the first time Russian authorities consider the idea to move pensioners out of the cities. Back in December 2010, the governor of the Belgorod region in Сentral Russia proposed to resettle Moscow elderly into the capital’s region. Moscow Mayor Sobyanin said that “although the suggestion sounds more like a joke, there may be a grain of truth in it.”

“During the summer, many elderly Muscovites were suffocating in concrete boxes,” the mayor recalled. “Why not build special camps for them so that they could go there and live for some time in comfortable village houses in the countryside?”

Sobyanin said that quite a lot of elderly people are scattered all over the central Russia, living in old and cold countryside houses all alone.

“Together with other regions, we could provide them with much better conditions, with proper household, medical and social facilities,” the mayor said. “Moscow is ready to take the project under its wing. Some regions have already offered their help.”

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