JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin’s Health-Care Cuts Spark Protests in Russian Heartland” – Bloomberg/ Henry Meyer, Ilya Arkhipov

Medical Symbol with Pole, Serpents, Wings, adapted from image at lanl.gov

“The country has 100 billionaires, and yet more than a third of Russians can’t afford to buy two pairs of shoes a year.” “… Concern … that traditionally loyal sections of the population are turning against the authorities [have] raised an alarm in the government [sources say] …. Protests used to be confined to the big cities. Now they’re in […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia is no place for young people” – Deutsche Welle

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

It’s almost impossible to find a decent salary and comfortable living conditions in Russia. For many young people, the only options are to build a life in Moscow or leave the country, says Anastasia Arinushkina. “… half of Russia’s citizens are unhappy with the size of their salaries and struggle to pay for health care and education, according to recent […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Richest 3% Russians Hold 90% of Country’s Financial Assets – Study” – Moscow Times

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 12, 2019) The wealthiest 3 percent of Russians owned 89 percent of all financial assets in 2018, according to joint research by the Higher School of Economics and the state-run VEB Bank. This is the first time a comprehensive study of wealth inequality has been attempted in Russia, the Kommersant business daily reported on […]

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Protesters in Russia Today Younger, Poorer and Further Left than a Decade Ago, Sociologists Say

Moscow Protest File Photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, March 24, 2019) Sociologists like Oleg Zhuravlyev of Tyumen University say that there has been a major shift in the composition and attitudes of Russian protesters over the last decade. Compared to 2011-2013, protesters are significantly younger, from poorer groups, and further to the left. Those taking part in the earlier demonstrations […]

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RUSSIALINK: “‘An Inescapable Phase of Life’: Fighting Loneliness Among Russia’s Elderly; Already saddled with meager pensions, Russia’s elderly also face another hardship: solitude” – Moscow Times

File Photo of Elders Walking in Russia

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Evan Gershkovich – March 25, 2019 – themoscowtimes.com/2019/03/25/an-inescapable-phase-of-life-fighting-loneliness-among-russias-elderly-a64935) When Lydia Kondrashova’s husband died in 1994, her pension wasn’t enough to keep her afloat. So she left her longtime home in southern Russia to move in with her youngest daughter in Mytishchi, a Moscow suburb. Two decades later, however, the arrangement had run its course. The […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russians in Heartland Sour on Vladimir Putin Over Money Woes; Stagnant wages, rising costs fuel grumbling among working-class residents who once lauded president” – Wall Street Journal/ Thomas Grove

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Podium with United Russia Logo, Gesturing

“… Working-class Russians … have increasingly shouldered the burden of an economy beset by Western sanctions and a government more committed to military spending than overhauling the civilian economy. … after years of paying for Moscow’s military adventures abroad, the economic malaise in Nizhniy Tagil, once considered a bastion of Kremlin loyalty, highlights growing discontent and an erosion of support […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia Ditches Real Income Data That Has Slumped for Five Years” – Bloomberg

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“Russia will stop publishing monthly data that’s shown a slump in disposable incomes for five straight years after the indicator was criticized for using methodology that’s decades out of date. The Federal Statistics Service will start releasing quarterly income data starting next month and historical numbers will be recalculated going back to 2013 …. The new methodology will include data […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin needs more than spending to lift ratings; Five years after Crimea was annexed, Russian discontent is rumbling” – Financial Times Editorial

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

“… exactly five years after … annexing Crimea, trust in the [Russian] president has dropped to a 13-year low. The economy is stagnating. While his state of the nation address this week ended with habitual nuclear sabre-rattling, much was devoted to spending pledges aimed at burnishing his image. It is far from clear that such social bribery will work. … […]

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In Search of Better Quality of Life, Russians Lean on Credit

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Evan Gershkovich – February 16, 2019 – themoscowtimes.com/2019/02/16/in-search-of-better-quality-of-life-russians-lean-on-credit) Voronezh wasn’t cutting it. Artyom had been out of college for four years, and job openings in the southern Russian city were sparse. Last fall, in search of better employment opportunities, he headed north to St. Petersburg. But the journey wasn’t cheap. “I needed money for the […]

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RUSSIALINK: “It is necessary to fairly distribute money resources between cities, villages – Medvedev” – Interfax

File Photo of Car on Road in Siberian Town

MOSCOW. Feb 17 (Interfax) – The difference between the incomes of people living in cities and villages should decrease and the budget funds will be distributed more fairly, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said. “Of course, agglomerations, cities are where our country is developing. They are very important, a considerable number of people live there. But we should not forget […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Stroppy in Strunino; The lessons from protests in small-town Russia; The government is getting less and less popular” – The Economist

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

“… in this sleepy town some 120km north-east of Moscow … when local activists organised a march … against planned cuts to medical services, more than 100 people took to the streets. …. an example of shifts in public opinion … reshaping the country’s political landscape. … The rapture [over Ukraine] began to fade … when the government announced plans […]

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Nearly 40 Percent of Russians Subsist on Less than 10 US Dollars a Day, Official Figures Show

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(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 10, 2019) Thirty-seven percent of Russians life on 19,000 rubles or less a month, Rosstat says, a figure that works out to a subsistence of ten US dollars or a less a day, 23.2 percent live on less than 15,000 rubles a month (under seven dollars a day); and 12 percent […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russians are ashamed of the ‘eternal poverty’ of their country” – bne Intellinews

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

“… The collapse of the Soviet Union and the loss of superpower status was … humiliating … Putin has played on [that] with actions like the annexation of Crimea and the war in Syria, to restore some sense of national pride. However, a … Levada Center [poll] this month found that Russians continue to be ashamed of their ‘eternal poverty’ […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Why Russia’s Economy Is Headed for Trouble; A lack of real reforms and a hyper-dependence on oil has prevented the emergence of a healthy, diverse economy” – The National Interest/ Michael Rubin/ American Enterprise Institute.

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Podium with United Russia Logo, Gesturing

“… Putin’s lasting legacy … will not be his wars in Georgia or Ukraine nor the new submarines, fighter jets, nuclear weapons, or hypersonic missiles whose manufacture and unveilings he has overseen. Rather, Putin’s historic legacy will likely be inheriting a country with great economic potential and leaving it an empty husk.  After so many years in power, Putin has […]

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One Russian in Four Lacks an Indoor Toilet, One of Many Signs There are Now ‘Four Distinct Russias’

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

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 7, 2019) According to a new report by Russia’s state statistical agency, Rosstat, 35 million Russians live in houses or apartments without indoor toilets, 47 million do not have hot water, 29 million don’t have any running water inside their residences, and 22 million do not have central heating (ehorussia.com/new/node/17679). In […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Real Incomes ‘Barely Budged’ in 2018, Chief Auditor Says” – Moscow Times

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 3, 2019) Russians saw virtually no change in their purchasing power as prices outpaced growth estimates in 2018, the country’s chief auditor has said. Economists say 2018 was the fifth consecutive year of falling real disposable personal incomes in Russia. They are set to drop again this year. “Citizens’ real incomes increased by decimal […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Every fifth Russian worker earns less than $250 per month” – bne Intellinews

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“Every fifth Russian worker earns less than RUB15,000 ($250) per month, according to … a study by the RIA Rating agency [cited by] … RIA Novosti …. Over 33% of people living in 22 regions earn less than this amount, according to the survey. [The worst were] Dagestan … (46%) … [and the] Karachay-Cherkess Republic (44%). In six regions, two […]

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One-Fifth Of Russians Live In Poverty, 36 Percent In ‘Risk Zone,’ Study Finds

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Nov. 21, 2018 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/study-22-percent-of-russians-live-in-poverty-36-percent-in-risk-zone-/29613059.html) More than one-fifth of the Russian population now lives in poverty, according to a new study by a research institute with ties to the Kremlin. The November 21 report by the Russian Presidential Academy of the National Economy and Public Administration says […]

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David Malaher: “Re: Oct. 16, 2018 #41: IMF ranks Ukraine as Europe’s poorest country”

International Monetary Fund Logo Over Ukraine Flag

Subject: Oct. 16, 2018 #41: IMF ranks Ukraine as Europe’s poorest country Date: Thu, 18 Oct 2018 From: David Malaher <david@malaher.org> To: David Johnson <davidjohnson@starpower.net> I try to follow Ukraine news through the Johnson List, among other sources. I visited Ukraine in June, touring through nine cities from Liviv to Odessa via a combination automobile and boat (on the Dnieper […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Wages in Russia’s regions are well behind the national average” – bne Intellinews/Ben Aris

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“Wages are starting to grow again …. However … the recovery is clearly very mixed.  … mega-cities … Moscow and St Petersburg … had incomes … 51% and 117% more than the average national wage of RUB42,640 ($625) per month … according to Rosstat … [but] two-thirds of Russian regions have incomes well below that level. In general the poorest […]

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NEWSLINK: “What’s Russia’s average pension? How much money will the government save by raising the retirement age? The surprising numbers behind Russian pension reform” – Meduza

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“… $209 is Russia’s average monthly pension, according to the Pension Fund’s January 2018 records … 31.4% of Russians are pensioners. That’s 46 million people ….”  

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Russians Are Most Unhappy With Putin Over Wealth Inequality – Poll

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 7, 2018) Russians are most unhappy with President Vladimir Putin over the unequal distribution of wealth in the country, according to the latest independent Levada Center poll. Putin, 65, officially assumes office for his fourth term Monday and reportedly plans to kick-start economic growth with a $162 billion increase in spending on healthcare, education […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Can Russia Afford Its Save-a-Billionaire Relief Program? Russia’s poorest will end up footing the bill” – Moscow Times/ Vedomosti/ Pavel Aptekar, Vladimir Ruvinsky

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“… new sanctions … the West imposed against companies and businesspeople with close Kremlin ties pose a new challenge for the Russian government and economy. Like in 2014, the authorities have already promised support to those targeted …. ‘Supporting those who support you’ might make sense politically, but how much of this … can the Russian economy bear? * * […]

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Russia Lacks Basic Preconditions for Democracy, Inozemtsev Says

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 27, 2018) This week, as Russia enters yet another pseudo-electoral campaign, two Moscow newspapers, Yezhednevny zhurnal and Novyye izvestiya have taken the highly unusual step of publishing an October 2015 address by Vladislav Inozemtsev on why Russia has never been, is not and won’t likely ever become a democracy. The speech, […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin Won’t Tell Voters How He’ll Pay for Domestic Spending” – Bloomberg/ Evgenia Pismennaya, Andrey Biryukov, Ilya Arkhipov

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“… offering Russians the biggest increase in domestic spending in years … what [Putin] won’t be talking much about is the package of tax hikes, benefit cuts and other changes … to help pay for [it] … possible increases to the pension age and the income tax … cuts in tax breaks for staples like food … [and] co-pays for […]

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85 Percent of Poor Russian Cities Located in Europe, Research Says

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – December 22, 2017) More than four out of five large Russian cities dependent on Moscow’s financial assistance are located in European Russia, according to new research by the Strelka Consulting Bureau. Russia’s so-called “Robin Hood” tax system subsidizes the nation’s poorer regions by reallocating tax revenues from wealthier regions. A mere 14 of 85 Russian […]

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Putin Offers Debt Relief to 42 Million Russians Before Elections

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – December 21, 2017) Vladimir Putin’s draft proposal to provide debt relief to a third of the Russian population before next year’s presidential elections is breezing its way through the Russian parliament. Kremlin officials are hoping for a 70 percent turnout with 70 percent of votes cast for Putin as president. A Levada poll published earlier […]

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Debt and poverty: the thriving business of high-risk moneylenders in Russia; In Russia, loansharks and payday lenders masquerade as “microfinance” organisations to attract clients. But for many people, short-term loans are a way of life.

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(opendemocracy.net – Ewa Dabrowska – December 12, 2017) Ewa Dąbrowska is PhD researcher at the University of Amsterdam. She focuses on the Russian financial system and microfinance in the post-Soviet space. “Avoid multiple loans. With several loans you are at greater risk of over-indebtedness,” warns the Warsaw-based Microfinance Center in a recent education campaign directed at users of microcredits in […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian PM says poverty is ‘glaring problem’ in country” – AFP

Dmitry Medvedev file photo

“… Medvedev … said poverty remained a ‘glaring problem’ in [Russia], where presidential elections are due to be held next year. ‘Poverty is, of course, one of the glaring problems of our modern economy,’ Medvedev said … ‘When the economy is weak, it’s impossible for there not to be any poor people’, Medvedev said …. A World Bank report … said that […]

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The Good Russians: Poorest Give to Others Even When They Don’t Have Enough to Eat

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, November 23, 2017) One of the many things those Russian officials and their allies who condemn any critic of the Russian government as a Russophobe don’t understand is that the objects of such attacks make a distinction they do not – between the horrific government and the many good Russians who suffer […]

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Putin Budget Points to Another Lost Decade for Russia, ‘Nezavisimaya Gazeta’ Says

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, October 4m 2017) The three-year budget the Russian government has proposed suggests that Russia will continue to stagnate, poverty will continue to grow, and the country will fall further and further behind the developed world and even its nearest neighbors, according to the editors of Nezavisimaya gazeta. In a lead article today, […]

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Interfax: Russian authorities know how to address gap between rich, poor – Putin

Hands Opening Envelope Containing Cash

MOSCOW. Oct 4 (Interfax) – The widening gap between the rich and the poor is “a real problem” for Russia, but there is an understanding how to address it, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. “With regard to the ‘scissors’ between rich and low-income people. This is a real problem on which we definitely should be working,” Putin said at the […]

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Russians worry most about price rise, poverty, unemployment – poll

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

MOSCOW. Aug 31 (Interfax) – Price rise still tops the list of social problems in the eyes of Russians, although its topically has declined over recent years, from 78% in 2015 to 61% now, Levada Analytical Center told Interfax. The other two of the top three problems are poverty and massive destitution (45%), and growing unemployment, corruption and bribery (33%). […]

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Piketty Zeroes In on Putin’s Pain Point; The West should stop relying on sanctions and instead target Russia’s massive offshore wealth.

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – August 14, 2017) After alerting the Western world to the alarming rise of inequality, Thomas Piketty has turned his attention to Russia. To someone who has lived through Russia’s transition from Communism to crony capitalism, his take on that transition reveals deep flaws in his overall methodology — but some of his conclusions […]

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Kremlin Plan to Make Fight for Justice Centerpiece of Putin Campaign Seen Backfiring

Russia Regions Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 26, 2017) Two anonymous sources “close to the Presidential Administration” tell the Znak news agency that Vladimir Putin plans to fight “the struggle against poverty and social injustice” a centerpiece of his re-election campaign in order to mobilize Russians against local and regional elites. But Znak commentator Yekaterina Vinokurova warns that […]

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A New Threat to the Kremlin: Russians’ Incomes Not Keeping Pace with Their Expectations

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, May 25, 2017) In every federal district except the Far East, Russians say they need more money for “a normal life” than their current incomes, a situation that reflects stagnating wages and salaries and rising prices and one, the editors of Nezavisimaya Gazeta say, that represents an increasingly serious political threat to […]

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Half of Russians Consider Themselves To Be Poor, Study Finds

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 4, 2017) Half of Russians believe that they are poor – even though under 15 percent officially qualify as impoverished, a new study has concluded. Researchers at Russia’s Higher School of Economics found that 50.4 percent of Russians think that they are living in poverty. That number is three times higher than the actual […]

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Behind the Russian mirror; For Russia’s media, social inequality has never been a hot topic. Meet the people behind a new media organisation trying put injustice on Russia’s political agenda.

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

(opendemocracy.net – Maxim Edwards – April 15, 2017) Maxim Edwards is Commissioning Editor at oDR. He writes on nationalism, migration, minorities and memory, with a focus on post-Soviet countries. His articles have appeared in Al-Jazeera, Al Monitor, Souciant and the Forward among other publications. Read the latest in our ongoing Unlikely Media series. As part of this series, oDR profiles […]

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NEWSLINK: “Unequal Russia: is anger stirring in the global capital of inequality?” – The Guardian (UK)  

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“With the richest 10% owning 87% of all the country’s wealth, Russia is rated the most unequal of the world’s major economies. Amid falling oil prices and a wave of protests, Shaun Walker asks how Russians really feel about life’s inequalities. …”

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Russia Still Migrant Magnet Even as Wages Stay Below China’s

Russian Migrant Workers file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Olga Tanas – April 19, 2017) The vast pool of labor across Russia’s porous borders is relieving strains in the labor market, helping drain the economy of inflationary pressure as it accelerates after almost two years of recession. A steady flow of arrivals has continued even as shrinking wages and Russia’s worst currency crisis since 1998 […]

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NEWSLINK: “PUTIN’S ECONOMY IS SO BAD, MANY RUSSIANS CAN’T AFFORD NEW SHOES” – Newsweek

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“To see the state of Vladimir Putin’s economy, look down at Russians’ feet. The weakening ruble is making Russians more cautious about their purchases, and annual shoe sales across the country have dropped in recent months as Russians wait for their footwear to completely wear out before buying new ones ….”

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This Recovery Isn’t for Everyone as Inequality Reshapes Russia

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Olga Tanas – March 22, 2017) A snapshot of Russia’s consumer welfare painted a picture of a country increasingly cleaved by inequality. A surprise deterioration of retail sales in February, alongside an unexpected plunge in real disposable incomes, is adding to evidence of what Morgan Stanley is calling an “uneven consumer recovery” driven by rising disparity […]

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Russians Happier Than They Look, UN Study Shows

UN Building file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – March 20, 2017) Don’t be misled by those grumpy faces on the Moscow metro: Russia is the 49th happiest place on Earth and it is becoming happier, a new study has found. The United Nation’s yearly World Happiness Report measures “subjective well-being” in 155 countries along criteria such as GDP per capita and life expectancy, […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: “Vice-premier: Russia has a unique phenomenon – workers are officially poor”

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Olga Golodets speaks out about worrying trend in the country: despite having regular jobs, millions of people are stuck below the poverty line due to poor wages. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – March 16, 2017) Russian Vice-Premier Olga Golodets has highlighted the fact that alarmingly low wages in the country are keeping people with regular jobs below the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “This Is the Russia You’re So Afraid Of?” – New York Times/Maria Antonova

Russia Regions Map

“… neglect began after the Communist system collapsed and has continued …. Russia is projecting its power from Ukraine to Syria to Western Europe…. [there are] allegations that the Kremlin meddled in the American presidential election …. support for … Putin is high and disdain for America … serves as … an artificial social cohesive …. Most people’s lives focus on economic survival … but … state television […]

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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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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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NEWSWATCH: “LIFE UNDER ALTERNATIVE FACTS” – The New Yorker/Mikhail Iossel

There was no real cognitive dissonance existing in the minds of most people in the Soviet Union of the nineteen-seventies and eighties. Everyone knew that everything said on the radio or on television, everything (with the exception of weather reports or sports results) was a blatant lie, spoken pro forma …. no one was duped into thinking this was actually […]

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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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