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VORKUTA, Russia (Reuters) – Russian railway worker Andrey Bugera had a singular goal: get to pension age so he can leave the polluted, frigid coal mining town above the Arctic Circle where he works and move south to live out even a brief bit of retirement in comfort.
But now that President Vladimir Putin has said he plans to raise the retirement age by five years, Bugera fears this will never happen.
City - Vorkuta - Place - Road - Temperatures
In his city of Vorkuta, a place so isolated it cannot be reached by road, temperatures dip below minus 40 degrees Celsius in the winter and clouds of coal dust can turn the white snow black.
Thin, polluted air, scarce sunlight and winters lasting up to 10 months weigh heavily on the average life expectancy in the city, labeled the eighth most polluted in Russia by the government last year.
June - Space - Weeks - Bugera - Friends
In June, in the space of two weeks, three of Bugera’s friends died before reaching the age of 50.
“One of my colleagues came home from his night shift and just didn’t wake up. Left his family, three kids. He was 47 years old. It was his heart, a blood clot… So how can they even think about us retiring at 60?” Bugera said.
Time - Concession - North - Retirement - Workers
Though one long time concession in the far north has been early retirement, to help attract workers to its harsh environment, the government’s planned reforms will raise the pension age by five years to 60 for men and 55 for women.
Yet males born in 2005 in Komi Republic, where Vorkuta is located, on average are expected to live to 56, government data shows, or four years short of the proposed new retirement age.
Rest - Russia - Retirement - Age - Men
In the rest of Russia, the retirement age is set to rise to 65 for men and 60 for women making matters little better as the nationwide life...
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