Staunton, September 7 – “The greatest social inequality [in Russia today] is between the capital and the regions,” not only in terms of income, medical care, and opportunities but in terms of life expectancy, IMEMO economist Yakov Mirkin says. On average today, Muscovites live 12 years longer than do those in the regions and republics.
Pay and opportunities in many regions outside the cities are now so low, he continues, that most people can do little more than go to work and then garden at home to make ends meet, a situation that lands them in despair, a despair which “give rise to a lack of desire to escape and even to a lack of trust in that possibility” (if24.ru/yakov-mirkin-borba-neravenstvo/).
As a result, people are kept at a level of illiteracy in all respects, “a deficit of knowledge. Sometimes it even seems,” the economist continues, that “we have begun to move in the direction of archaic forms of life, when people are satisfied with what they have to eat and wear and watch on television.”
Such people may be easier to control, but their existence in massive numbers prevents the country from developing and means that Russia will fall further and further behind other countries, almost all of whom display a greater aptitude for progress and a significantly small gap between rich and poor.
But addressing that problem in Russia’s case will be extremely difficult because it will require a reordering of the entire political system, one that allows the regions and republics greater flexibility and ends the hyper-centralization of Russian life that has been true under tsars, commissars, and nominal democrats.