Putin’s False Populism: Russia’s Poor Now Being Squeezed to Help the Rich
November 20 – Many commentators have suggested that a new populist wave is
sweeping the world with some of them pointing to Vladimir Putin’s Russia as the
origin of this trend. But that populism, especially in its original form, is
false: It involves squeezing the poor to help the rich while distracting the
poor by playing up cultural issues of one kind or another.
a commentary on the Rosbalt portal, Sergey Shelin says that the next few months
are going to show whether Putin’s plan of squeezing the poor for the benefit of
the rich will work and what diversions the Kremlin may have to come up with in
order to avoid a backlash from its victims (http://m.rosbalt.ru/blogs/2015/02/18/1369341.html).
one hand inflation is going to rise because of the money given to state
monopolies,” he writes, “but with the other hand, [the Putin regime] will
struggle against it by freeing the incomes of the simple people.”That may not be sustainable for long, but it
is clearly Putin’s policy for the next few months.
the last several months, Shelin says, there has taken shape “a not very elegant
but in its own way logical economic course,” one that treats those on top very
differently than those below and that is prepared to sacrifice the interests
and needs of the latter in order to help those on top and to avoid the
inflation that aid to the former is triggering.
government’s program of assistance to the raw materials giants is by its nature
inflationary, something none of the people at the top of the Putin regime want.
If inflation takes off in a serious way, they could all face real problems. “Therefore,”
Shelin says, “they are conducting exactly the opposite course” with regard to
the Russian people.
are cutting back on social services and ending the indexation of pensions and
pay, thus driving down the real incomes of Russians and putting a brake on
inflationary pressures, which various experts say may lead to price increases
of more than ten percent in the first months of next year.
possibility is very real, the Rosbalt commentator says, “and it means … a
stable reduction of the real incomes of Russians of no less than a tenth” by
next year.If inflation is held in
check, the government may be able to lift some of its restrictions; but if it
isn’t, then, the Kremlin will push down the incomes of average Russians even
great deal depends on the price of oil. “The lower it is the more probable that
the regime will take more and more from the people, while the higher it is, the
greater are the chances that for the time being things will still be limited to
a decline in real incomes of ten percent.”
“the chief misfortune,” Shelin continues, is that “these deprivations will
hardly bring the exit from the crisis any closer.”On the contrary, “they will put off the
search for such an exit” because “the core cause of the crisis is not cheap oil
and even not sanctions.”Rather, it is
located in “the increasing inadequacy of all [Russia’s] feudal-monopolist
Putin regime is forcing the population to tighten its belts to gain time for
itself and thus put off any real reforms.But as things get worse and there is no prospect for change, an increasing
number of Russians are going to recognize that “their sacrifices are for naught,”
he suggests. Once that happens, their country could enter a period of real