MOSCOW: Taking care of pensioners who are his bedrock of support has been a key feature of President Vladimir Putin’s rule, but as crisis bites, the Russian government is mooting an idea that has been taboo for 80 years: raising the retirement age. Since 1932, Russian men have been eligible to retire at the age of 60 and women at the age of 55. In numerous professions, especially hazardous ones like mining, people may retire even earlier. But the budget has come under strain as people have started to live longer, as Russian women now have a life expectancy of 76 and men 65. Now, faced with a shrinking economy thanks to Western sanctions over Ukraine, an oil price that is half of what it was a year ago and a weak ruble, even Putin is cautiously bringing up the subject, which threatens to unleash protests and hurt his high ratings.