October 25, 2018


Vladimir Putin messed with pensioners. Now his approval rating is nearing record lows (Max de Haldevang, October 24, 2018, Quartz)

From 82% in April, it fell to 66% in October, according to independent pollster the Levada Center. The drop follows his decision to reform Russia's pensions; a move that inspired tens of thousands of Russians to take to the streets this year.

The protests forced Putin into taking the rare step of softening the reforms in August. The Kremlin initially planned to raise women's retirement age from 55 to 63, but later changed it to 60. Nevertheless, his ratings continue to fall.

In response to demonstrations, he called the reforms, "a difficult, complicated, but necessary decision," for the good of the economy.

The former KGB agent is now approaching his lowest-ever approval rating of 61%, which he has hit twice before: In June 2000 (shortly after he was first elected), and in Nov. 2013. A few months after the latter trough, Putin annexed Crimea and his approval sky-rocketed to the mid-80s.

Nato starts largest drills since cold war, with troop, tank and plane manoeuvres on Russia's doorstep (SCMP, 25 October, 2018)

Military forces from 31 countries began Nato's largest exercise in decades, stretching from the Baltic Sea to Iceland, on Thursday, practising military manoeuvres close to Russia, which held its own huge military drill last month.

As temperatures fell below freezing across training grounds in central Norway, giving a taste of what it means to defend Nato's vast northern flank, some 50,000 troops, 250 aircraft and 10,000 tanks, trucks and other land-based vehicles were ready.

"Forces are in position, they are integrating and starting combat enhancement training for major battlefield operations over the next two weeks," said Colonel Eystein Kvarving at Norway's Joint Headquarters.

Posted by at October 25, 2018 3:56 AM