Fresh Protests Over Russia Pension Reforms .

President Putin was seen taking to his polling station to make his vote for the new Moscow mayor during the nationwide election day

He was referring to a planned demonstration to protest a bill that would raise the retirement age in the country, organized by Navalny and scheduled for Sunday, coinciding with nationwide balloting that includes by-elections to the State Duma (lower house of Parliament), as well as several gubernatorial and mayoral races in cities such as Moscow.

The move has seen Putin's approval rating drop by 15% and "unlike protests against corruption organised by Navalny, which have rallied mostly young people, the pension protests have brought older Russians, often seen as Mr Putin's base, into the streets", says the New York Times.

A Reuters reporter saw at least three people being detained.

Nearly 300 people, many of them supporters of the opposition activist Alexei Navalny, were arrested in 19 towns and cities. The largest number was in St. Petersburg, Russia's second-largest city, where 354 demonstrators were held, OVD-Info reported.

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As in previous rallies, numerous protesters were young, including minors, and pictures of the police manhandling teens went viral on social media. Protests organised by the Communist Party were held across Russian Federation earlier this month.

Police violently broke up unsanctioned rallies, including in Saint Petersburg where more than 450 people were detained. He added that "hooligans and provocateurs" mixed up with protesters and assailed police.

Ahead of the vote a Moscow court jailed Navalny for 30 days, just a couple weeks before he planned to stage a rally against a deeply controversial pension reform on election day.

Russian political analyst Dmitry Oreshkin told the Kyiv Post that the results were due to Putin's pension reform plan and worsening economic conditions amid Western sanctions.

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In Moscow, however, authorities have implemented an aggressive get-out-the-vote campaign, including promises of free concert tickets to voters and setting up polling stations outside of the city to enable voters spending the summer at their dachas to participate. "I want a better life for myself and my children".

Mr Putin softened the initial plan to raise women's retirement age to 63.

But Mr Putin and government officials say the age hike is necessary because rising life expectancy in Russian Federation could exhaust pension resources if the eligibility age remains the same.

There will also be run-offs for the governors of Khakasia, Primorsky Krai, Vladimir Oblast and Khabarovsk Krai, where United Russia candidates will compete with candidates from the Communist Party and the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, a nationalist group.

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