NEWSWATCH: “Four Warning Signs Of Instability In Russia” – Forbes.com/George Friedman

Russia Regions Map

“Russia has four areas of instability: the distribution and prevalence of wage arrears, pressure on its banking system, low-level social and economic unrest, and government purges. … Russia’s economy is highly regionalized. More than a fifth of Russia’s wealth comes from Moscow and its surrounding areas. The central government keeps the Russian Federation together by redistributing wealth to the interior. […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Why Belarus Can’t Afford to Be the New Ukraine; Is it too late for Lukashenko to defy Russia?” – The National Interest/Nikolay Pakhomov

Alyaksandr Lukeshenko file photo

“On February 3 Belarusian president Aleksandr Lukashenko launched the fiercest of his rhetorical attacks against Russia  …. moderate estimates show that Belarus has received approximately $100 billion of various Russian investments, preferences and support. … Politically, the Union State of Russia and Belarus that was formed in December 1999 never fully materialized. Furthermore, despite the geopolitical showdown between Russia and […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin] Meeting with CEO of Sberbank German Gref

File Photo of German Gref Shaking Hands with U.S. Official

(Kremlin.ru – February 23, 2017) Sberbank CEO and Chairman of the Board German Gref briefed Vladimir Putin on the bank’s 2016 performance results and its current activities, including the prospects for developing mortgage lending, and new financial support mechanisms for the defence industry and agricultural sector businesses. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Gref, concerning the bank’s performance, we know […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russian real disposable income up for first time since 2014 on pension payout” – bne Intellinews

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“Rosstat recorded the first rise in Russian real disposable income in January since October 2014. However, Rosstat went on to say that the bump was caused by a one-time payment to pensioners of RUB5000 (€81.69) in lieu of indexing their pensions at above the rate of inflation. …”

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Russia Eyes Reforms to 13 Percent Flat Income Tax; A new series of reform proposals could tie tax rates to income levels

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Kupfer – February 22, 2017) #Russia has long prided itself on its simple 13 percent flat income #tax rate. But a series of reform proposals could push the country towards a progressive alternative. The Finance Ministry, the Economic Development Ministry and the Center for Strategic Research (CSR) are actively developing reforms for the Russian […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin] Meeting with Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Kremlin.ru – February 21, 2017) Sergei Sobyanin updated the President on Moscow’s socioeconomic development in 2016, the implementation of several large transport projects, including the launch of the Moscow Central Circle (MCC) railway line, and renovation of the housing stock. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Sobyanin, let us talk about Moscow’s performance in 2016 and plans for 2017. Moscow […]

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Putin Orders Demolition of Moscow’s Iconic Post-War Apartment Blocks

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Katie Davies – February 21, 2017) Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the complete demolition of Moscow’s post-war Khrushchevkas: Soviet housing blocks which once offered hope to millions of families after World War II. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin announced on Tuesday that 1.6 million Muscovites were still living in the buildings, many of which were […]

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Half of Russia Still in Crisis Prepares for Worse to Come

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Olga Tanas – February 20, 2017) The half of Russia’s economy that hasn’t got wind of a recovery is already hunkering down for the crisis to come. Once indispensable for the country’s prospects, consumption flat-lined well below zero throughout last year even as the broader economy defied gloom. From the ruble to industrial output and wages, […]

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Russia Overtakes Saudi Arabia as World’s Top Crude Oil Producer

Oil Well file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Claudia Carpenter – February 20, 2017) Russia overtook Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest crude producer in December, when both countries started restricting supplies ahead of agreed cuts with other global producers to curb the worst glut in decades. Russia pumped 10.49 million barrels a day in December, down 29,000 barrels a day from November, while […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Study looks at free-trade-with-Russia scenario. Free trade between the EU and Russia could bring enormous benefits for both sides, a study by the Munich-based Ifo economic research institute suggests. Only, the Ukraine conflict still stands in the way.” – Deutsche Welle

EU Map

A free trade area for the European Union, Russia and other states would have economic advantages for all sides involved, according to model-based calculations by the Ifo research institute. … The study admits that a free trade agreement of this kind is barely conceivable as long as the Ukraine conflict remains unsettled and Western sanctions against Russia are in place. […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russian IPO wave on the way” – bne/Intellinews

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“A wave of Russian IPO could be gathering momentum out to sea after iconic toy store Detsky Mir placed its €333mn IPO earlier this month. Russia’s equity market has come back to life with about $1.9bn worth of securities issued in just the last three months. …”

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Interfax: Moody’s upgrades Russia rating outlook to stable

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

MOSCOW. Feb 20 (Interfax) – Moody’s Investors Service has changed the outlook for Russia’s sovereign ratings to stable from negative. Russia’s issuer rating and the rating for Russian government bonds have been affirmed at Ba1, and the short-term rating has been affirmed at Not Prime, the rating agency said in a press release. Finance Minister Anton Siluanov welcomed Moody’s decision. […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Working meeting with Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin

Kremlin and River

(Kremlin.ru – February 15, 2017) Vladimir Putin had a working meeting with Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin, who briefed the President on the economic situation in Russia in 2016, and the prospects for 2017. Ways to continue reducing inflation this year were also under discussion. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Oreshkin, do you have the final figures or the […]

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Brazil, Russia Get Top Marks in Emerging Market Survey

File Photo of Flags of BRICS Nations and BRICS Logo from Past Summit

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Yumi Teso, Lilian Karunungan – February 12, 2017) [Charts here https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-02-12/brazil-russia-favored-in-emerging-market-survey-china-dodged] Combine the prospects for interest-rate cuts with their higher carry-trade returns and two countries stand out as the best bets this year in emerging markets: Brazil and Russia. In a survey of 16 investors and analysts conducted Jan. 23 to Feb. 1, the nations’ bonds […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s economy grows at $40 per barrel oil; Russia’s Central Bank last week said appetite was low for an increase in lending rates” – UPI/Daniel J. Graeber

Elvira Nabiullina file photo

The Russian economy will be on the positive side of growth even if the price of crude oil falls to $40 per barrel … [Central Bank Gov. Elvira Nabiullina] said. … The number of economic sectors expected to expand this year is not much greater than those in contraction, but losers are outnumbered. Much … depends on the price of […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH/Vzglyad: “Food import substitution turns out to be extremely profitable”

File Photo of U.S. Dairy Cows

“Russia has saved $4 billion since it began substituting imported products in response to the imposition of food embargoes by the U.S. and EU, the Agriculture Ministry says. But is this enough to encourage the future growth of production?”

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How Does Conflict of Interest Translate Into Russian? It Doesn’t.

Yury Chaika file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Irina Skrynnik – February 9, 2017) Russia’s Prosecutor General Yury Chaika gave his first detailed comments on the business owned by his eldest son, Artyom, and his younger son, Igor, in an interview last week. “Don’t you think it’s a delicate situation when a father – meaning you – serves on a high government post […]

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Putin’s Tough Choice: China Or The West

Eurasia Map

(Oilprice.com – Robert Berke – February 3, 2017) To many observers, the appointment of Tillerson to the helm the State Dept signaled the Administration’s priority of supporting the oil industry, which in recent years has been under severe pressure from OPEC’s campaign of over-production that forced prices down to a post-recession low. Seen from a different angle, the move also […]

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Russian Government Named Biggest Threat to Competitive Economy

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – February 8, 2017) Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) has named the state the biggest threat to healthy competition in the Russian economy. The agency is now asking President Vladimir Putin to sign a presidential decree reducing the government’s role in key economic sectors over the next two years, the Vedomosti newspaper reported Wednesday. The decree […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Bad Equilibrium” – project-syndicate/Anders Åslund

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

After more than two years of economic contraction, Russia seems to have achieved some semblance of stability. Though economic growth is expected to reach only about 1% in 2017, the fear of economic destabilization that has permeated the country since its 2014 invasion of Crimea – which was met with crippling sanctions from the West – has all but evaporated. […]

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Russians Are Getting Used to Being Broke

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Olga Kuvshinova – February 6, 2017) Russia’s recovery from the current recession continues to slow, according to the Economic Development Ministry. The reason: demand has plummeted. If that is the case, it means the Russian economy’s decline is in full swing despite official statements that the recession has ended. The decline in retail turnover – […]

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Moscow Doesn’t Expect Trump to End Sanctions All at Once but ‘Cleverly’ Over Time, Markov Says

File Photo of Donald Trump Waving Before Large Crowd with Trump Signs, adapted from image at whitehouse.gov

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 3, 2017) “Russophobia is so deeply rooted in European-American ideology,” Sergey Markov says, that Moscow doesn’t expect new US President Donald Trump to end all sanctions all at once but rather “in a clever fashion” that avoids problems for him and over a significant period of time. The words of Markov, […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: “Russians can no longer afford to pinch pennies on food”

Cash, Calculator, Pen

If incomes continue to drop, however, Russians won’t be able to cut their food budgets and still adequately feed themselves. Any further cuts could mean risking malnutrition. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – IGOR ROZIN, RBTH – Feb. 6, 2017) Consumers are not willing to further cut food spending even if their financial situation continues to deteriorate. Grocery spending […]

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American Business Lobby In Moscow Sees Sympathetic Ally In President Trump; The American Chamber of Commerce in Moscow isn’t happy about sanctions. But don’t call it a policy position.

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Bodner – February 2, 2017) In mid-December, with Donald Trump’s ascension to the presidency looming, former Republican congressman Jack Kingston flew to Moscow. Kingston, a senior Trump surrogate, was dispatched to liaise with American firms working in Russia. The topic on everyone’s minds was the U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia in response to its […]

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Russia Nears End of Recession as GDP Shrinks Less Than Forecast

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Olga Tanas – February 1, 2017) Russia edged closer to exiting its longest recession in almost two decades as mining, manufacturing and agriculture added to stabilizing oil prices to steady the economy of the world’s biggest energy exporter. Gross domestic product contracted 0.2 percent last year after an upwardly revised decline of 2.8 percent in 2015, […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Vladimir Putin, Mikhail Men, Alexander Novak, Nikolai Nikiforov, Vitaly Mutko at] Meeting with Government members

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(kremlin.ru – February 1, 2017) Vladimir Putin met with Government members to discuss possibilities for further developing treasury monitoring of budget spending, the situation with co-funded housing development, and a number of other current issues. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon colleagues. Today, we will discuss the results of work and further development for treasury monitoring of budget spending. […]

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Russian Government Starts Free Land Giveaway in Country’s Far East

Siberian River, Forest, Mountain

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – February 1, 2017) #Russian citizens can now claim a hectare of free land in the country’s remote Far East in a bid to rejuvenate the sparsely-populated region. Free plots of land are on offer in the Kamchatka, Primorye, Khabarovsk, Amur, Magadan and Sakhalin regions, the republic of Sakha, or the Jewish and Chukotka autonomous districts. […]

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Moscow Counting on Russians Passively Accepting Raising Pension Age beyond Male Life Expectancy

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 2, 2016) The Russian government doesn’t have to worry about widespread protests over its reported plans to raise the pension age of Russian males in 2018 to one older than their average life expectancy, a Russian scholar in Yakutsk says. The opposition will complain, but it doesn’t have the votes in […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The sanctions on Russia are working, Mr. President: Don’t lift them prematurely” – The Hill/Alexander Vershbow

Alexander Vershbow file photo

“… I have seen many U.S. presidents seek to engage … Russia. While it has never been easy, it was possible to find areas of common ground that increased the security of both sides — as long as the U.S. set clear objectives and stuck with them. … The sanctions are working. … Russia is interested in having sanctions removed. […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: “Index of fear: What are Russians most afraid of?”

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

Most Russians polled are afraid of war and international conflicts, but the number decreased to 14 points in December compared to 23 points in January 2016. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – January 30, 2017) Russians’ main fears remain the threat of war and inflation, while family troubles are the least worry. These findings are the results of a […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Rouble’s revival gives Russia an unexpected headache” – AFP

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

It was a step that seemed unimaginable a year ago: the Russian authorities stepping in to stop the country’s currency from getting too strong. … The finance ministry said Putin himself had decided that the surplus oil revenue would not be used for ‘additional spending’ but would go towards buying foreign currencies to bolster the country’s depleted reserve funds. … […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia Survived Sanctions, And BlackRock Goes Overweight” – Forbes.com/Kenneth Rapoza

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“… Russian oil and gas companies, along with its biggest banks, were sanctioned in the summer of 2014 following the March annexation of Crimea, a Black Sea peninsula in southeastern Ukraine. Tension between the West and Russia increased that year as a new, U.S. backed government led by Arsesniy Yatsenyuk took hold in Kiev, sending Moscow into panic mode. Russia […]

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Putin and Trump Want to Team Up, but That’s Not Going to Be Easy

Donald Trump

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Bodner, Mikhail Fishman – January 27, 2017) No actor on the world stage was as publicly energized by the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency as Russia. At first glance, the support seemed entirely emotional. But there was also a rational interest: Trump was open to lifting sanctions, after all. Sanctions have had a […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: Russia may benefit from Trans-Pacific Partnership collapse

Asia Map

One of Donald Trump’s first decisions as U.S. president was to pullout from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. This gives Russia and China a chance to jumpstart talks on setting up free trade areas with Asian partners. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – KSENIYA ILYINSKAYA, SPECIAL TO RBTH – January 27, 2017) On his first day in office following […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian retail slump clouds forecasts for economic recovery” – Reuters

File Photo of Older Russian Woman Shopping in Grocery Store

Russian retail sales fell more than expected in December, official data showed on Wednesday, challenging the government’s optimistic predictions for an imminent economic recovery. Retail sales are the largest contributor to Russian gross domestic product and have suffered steep falls since the economy entered a deep slump in 2014, when oil prices collapsed and the West imposed sanctions over the […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia investment and political stories go their separate ways” – bne/Intellinews/Ben Aris

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

“There are two Russias at the moment. The first is the evil “Putin’s Russia” that kills journalists, bombs civilians and invades other countries. Then there is “bull Russia”, where investors have been making fat profits ….”

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NEWSWATCH: “Trump’s pick for U.S. Treasury chief says 100% committed to Russia sanctions” -bne/Intellinews

“US #Treasury secretary nominee Steven #Mnuchin said he is 100% committed to enforcing the #sanctions against #Russia, as he gave evidence during the #Senate #Finance Committee confirmation hearings on January 19. * * * … Relations between the two countries plunged to their lowest ebb since the Cold War in 2014 after Russia annexed Crimea and encouraged a separatist conflict […]

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De-dollarization of economy, banking system proceeding at full speed, to continue – Central Bank

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

MOSCOW. Jan 24 (Interfax) – De-dollarization of the #Russian economy and #banking system is proceeding at full speed given the preferences of the public and companies and this process will continue, the head of the Central Bank of #Russia’s research and forecasting department Alexander #Morozov said at a roundtable in the State #Duma. “De-dollarization in the economy is proceeding at […]

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Russians Work Far More Hours but Far Less Productively than Most Other Nations, OECD Says

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 22, 2017) Russians work far more hours per year than do most other nations, but they are far less productive in terms of their contribution to their country’s GDP than are the latter, according to data collected by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The OECD data show, “Ogonyek” […]

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Surviving on the streets: Stories from those that care for the homeless

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

According to various estimates, between a 1.5 million and 3 million people in Russia are homeless. An RBTH correspondent accompanied volunteers from the Moscow adaptation center for the homeless as they went on their nightly rounds and learned how the homeless survive in the most densely populated city in the country. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – YEVGENY LEVKOVICH, […]

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Russia Locks In on What’s Wrong With Ruble During Oil Frenzy

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Anna Andrianova – January 23, 2017) Untethering the #ruble helped #Russia ride out the biggest #oil downturn in a generation. But it’s left the world’s biggest energy exporter vulnerable to greater volatility in crude prices as #OPEC pushes output cuts. To address that, the Bank of Russia is preparing to wade back into the currency market […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia shouldn’t pin hopes for lifting of sanctions on foreign elections – Medvedev” – RT/Russia Today

File Photo of Dmitry Medvedev with United Russia Logos Behind Him

“‘It’s time to discard the illusions that any sanctions imposed on our country would be lifted. Obviously, they are there to stay for a long time. And don’t lay your hopes on someone else’s elections,’ [Medvedev] said Sunday, in a speech addressing a United Russia party meeting in Moscow. …”

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RUSSIALINK: “Deputy Prime Minister: Too Early to ‘Discharge’ Russia’s Economy ‘From Hospital'” – Sputnik News

Igor Shuvalov file photo

“… ‘We could say that we have been discharged from the hospital, when we have a sustainable growth and increase in our citizens income. At the moment we can not see it,’ Shuvalov told the Rossiya-24 broadcaster …”

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PM Medvedev sees drastic improvement of infrastructure as key economic growth condition

Moscow Roads

GORKI. Jan 20 (Interfax) – The Russian authorities will be unable to attain economic growth rates higher than the world’s average without a drastic improvement in infrastructure, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said. “As you know, we are drafting a comprehensive government action plan for the period until 2025. Our primary objective is economic growth rates above the world’s average,” […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Listen, liberal. Alexei Kudrin wants to liberalise Russia’s economy to save it. But with Donald Trump’s election, many Russians think Putin’s model is winning.” – The Economist

Alexei Kudrin file photo

“… Kudrin’s verdict was grim. Russia, he said, is at a low pace of economic growth even compared with the period of stagnation in the 1970s and 1980s that led to the Soviet collapse. The reasons go well beyond low #oil prices and Western sanctions: The main problems lie within Russia and they are structural and institutional.’ Russia lags far […]

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Poll finds 45% of Russians Dissatisfied With The Country’s Situation

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 19, 2017) A recent poll by the Public Opinion Foundation (FOM) found that 45 percent of Russians are dissatisfied with the general situation in the country, the RBC newspaper reports. Nearly half the population expressed dissatisfaction with the authorities in the realm of healthcare, the economy and the social safety net. The results of […]

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