Staunton, August 18 – Vladimir Putin says he is concerned about the enormous amount of bad news on the Internet and would like to see more upbeat stories about life in his Russia (svoboda.org/a/29437436.html), but the flood of bad news continues, much of it the product of the Kremlin leader’s own policies.
The last 24 hours are entirely typical of the kind of bad news that has been coming out of Russia, much of it sourced not to opposite figures but to Putin regime agencies. In addition to stories about Moscow’s pension plans, poverty and increasing income differentiation, the seven stories below stand out:
· Wage Arrears have Increased 20.9 Percent in Just One Month. A problem Russians may remember from the 1990s is returning in full force: companies aren’t paying their employees for work already completed, with the number not paid having risen by 20.9 percent in just the last month for which data are available (classic.newsru.com/russia/17aug2018/ruwages.html).
· Russia’s Population Fell by Nearly 90,000 in First Half of 2018. According to Rosstat, the number of people living in Russia declined by 88,700 during the first six months of this year, a reflection of declining fertility rates and the entrance of fewer migrants (newsru.com/russia/17aug2018/rudemography.html).
· Food Prices Going Up So Fast that Russians May Soon ‘Forget the Taste of Meat.’ Despite official claims to the contrary, inflation is rising dramatically in a sector every Russian relies on: at food stores. Prices for meat in particular are rising so fast that some say many Russians will soon not be able to afford meat and will begin to forget what it tastes like (apn-spb.ru/news/article28771.htm and rusmonitor.com/vskore-rossiyane-mogut-zabyt-vkus-myasa.html).
· Regime Wants to Limit Adoptions by Large Families. The Russian government wants to impose strict limits on the ability of families with three children of their own to adopt orphans, something that will likely increase the number of the latter without homes because larger families traditionally have been more willing to take on children than those with fewer (lenta.ru/news/2018/08/17/ludoedstvo/).
· Ruble Falls 20 Percent But Kremlin Says Everything is ‘Stabilizing.’ The ruble has suffered one of its worst declines against the euro and the dollar in months, but Putin’s press secretary says everything is under control and the situation is “stabilizing” (finanz.ru/novosti/valyuty/kreml-zayavil-ob-absolyutnoy-stabilnosti-posle-obvala-rublya-na-20percent-1027467461).
· Russian Housing Stock Lags Europe by 15 Years with Millions in Substandard Residences. According to official statistics, Russians are living in housing that is at least 15 years behind that in Europe. And that means, figures show, that millions live without plumbing or sewage or even heating and in homes that would be condemned as unfit in other countries (lenta.ru/news/2018/08/17/jit_ne_o4en/ and lenta.ru/news/2018/08/17/jit_ne_o4en/).
· Two Million Young Russians Aren’t in School or in Jobs. New statistics show that two million Russians between the ages of 18 and 24 are not in school or employed. Instead, most remain dependent on their parents for support (polit.ru/article/2018/08/18/neet/).
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