Pandemic has Pushed 6.1 Percent of Middle-Class Russians into Poverty, HSE Experts Say

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, Sept. 26, 2020) The coronavirus pandemic has cut the incomes of 24 percent of the members of the Russian middle class and driven 6.1 percent of them into the ranks of the country’s poor, according to an analysis of Rosstat data by scholars at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics. Before the pandemic, […]

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‘No More than 10’ Russian Regions Now Providing Accurate Coronavirus Data, Mathematical Analysis Shows

Covid-19 Coronavirus file photo, adapted from image at cdc.gov

Over the last month, regions including Moscow are reporting figures that reflect what their leaders have promised but that are improbable when subjected to mathematical analysis […]

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Russians Increasingly Angry that They Live in Poverty in a Country So Rich in Natural Resources

Oil Well file photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 28, 2020) The pandemic and associated economic crisis have exacerbated widespread anger among Russians that they live in poverty despite the enormous natural wealth of their country and its sale earlier abroad for more than six trillion US dollars. Had even a small part of that money gone to the people, […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia Should Launch Cash Handouts and Quantitative Easing, Economists Argue” – Moscow Times

Cash, Calculator, Pen

The Russian government needs to spend up to $136 billion to fight the economic impact of the coronavirus, a group of liberal economists argues (Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – April 14, 2020) The Russian government should dramatically accelerate its economic relief measures by launching a quantitative easing program and handing over large cash payments to Russian citizens, a group of […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Coronavirus Upends Putin’s Political Agenda in Russia” – AP

Kremlin and River

“… A nationwide vote on April 22 was supposed to finalize sweeping constitutional reforms that would allow [Putin] to stay in power until 2036 …. But after the coronavirus spread in Russia, that plebiscite had to be postponed – an action so abrupt that billboards promoting it already had been erected in Moscow and other big cities. Now under threat […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Putin’s Spending Boost Won’t Be Enough To Lift Russians Out of Poverty, Audit Chamber Warns” – Moscow Times

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Russia’s plans to spend an extra $60 billion to raise living standards will fall short of the government’s ambitious poverty-reduction targets, the watchdog says (Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – March 4, 2020) President Vladimir Putin’s new package of social spending initiatives will not be enough to hit the country’s ambitious poverty-reduction targets, a government watchdog has said. In its assessment […]

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Sure, Help The Homeless, These Moscow Residents Say, But Don’t Do It In Our Neighborhood

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(Article text ©2019 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Anastasia Kuzina, Robert Coalson – MOSCOW – Oct. 27, 2019 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/russia-homeless-moscow-neighborhood-not-in-my-backyard/30238628.html) “If you want to do good deeds, do them – but don’t make those around you uncomfortable,” said Kira Gorchakova, a resident of Moscow’s Begovoi district when asked about a shelter […]

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Russian Middle Class Now ‘More Dead than Alive,’ New Research Shows

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(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, October 5, 2019) “The middle class in Russia is more dead than alive,” Fustem Falyakhov reports in Gazeta on the basis of new research carried out by Alina Pishnyak of the Center for the Analysis of Incomes and Standard of Living of the Higher School of Economics (gazeta.ru/business/2019/10/04/12737647.shtml). Her research shows that […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Economic growth not an end in itself, vital to boost incomes – Putin” – Interfax

Hands Opening Envelope Containing Cash

MOSCOW. Sept 25 (Interfax) – Public- and social-sector wages, to which the May presidential decree does not apply, will be indexed by 4.3% on October 1, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with Cabinet ministers. The main topic of the meeting was additional measures to speed up economic growth and raising household incomes. “Economic growth itself is not […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Relentless rise of consumer debt in Russia fuels bubble fears for some” – Reuters/ Darya Korsunskaya, Elena Fabrichnaya, Tatiana Voronova

Hands Opening Envelope Containing Cash

“… After five years of shrinking real incomes, many Russians are borrowing to make ends meet or even just to pay off their creditors – and the issue is climbing up the political agenda. … Some 2.5 million people earning up to 20,000 roubles ($303.09) a month … less than half the average wage, spend more than half of that […]

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RUSSIALINK: “1 in 4 Russians Are Seeing Their Wallets Shrink – Poll” – Moscow Times

Hands Opening Envelope Containing Cash

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – July 31, 2019) Almost a quarter of Russians say they have felt their finances dwindle in recent months, according to a survey by the state-run Foundation of Public Opinion (FOM) pollster. Real incomes have declined in the past five years in Russia against the backdrop of Western sanctions and falling oil prices. As he took […]

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Russians Living on Loans Face Credit Crunch This Fall, Financial Analyst Says

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(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 28, 2019) The economic situation of the large number of Russians who have sought to maintain their earlier standard of living by taking out loans is about to get much worse, financial analyst Igor Nikolayev says, because in the coming months, the government plans to make it more difficult for them […]

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Russians Finally Finding Out Just How Poorly Paid They Are, Shelin Says

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(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 24, 2019) Russians have long been accustomed to hearing that the average wage in Russia is 47,700 rubles (800 US dollars) a month, Sergey Shelin says; but now they are learning that the median wage – the one where half receive more and half less – is only 34,300 rubles (560 […]

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RUSSIALINK: “21M Russians Live in Poverty, Official Data Says” – Moscow Times

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – July 29, 2019) The number of Russians living below the poverty line has grown by half a million since early 2018, according to official data. Western sanctions and falling oil prices over the past five years have led to a decline in real incomes and a rise in consumer prices. President Vladimir Putin is pursuing […]

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Nearly Half Of Russian Families Can Afford Only Food, Clothing

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(Article text ©2019 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – May 29, 2019 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/nearly-half-of-russian-families-can-afford-only-food-clothing/29970069.html) Nearly half of all Russian families say that they only have enough money for food and clothing and cannot buy items of longer-term use such as furniture and appliances, media reports cite data from the state statistics agency […]

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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

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“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

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“… $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

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“… 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

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“… 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

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(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

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(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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