Tuesday, June 30, 2020

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

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 28 – 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, there wouldn’t be 18.5 million poor in Russia.

            The Krizis-Kopilka portal, which carries stories about the pandemic and the economic crisis today presents a series of comments by ordinary Russians and by Moscow observers that underscore the growing sense that the situation in Putin’s Russia is unjust and unsustainable (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/77671).

            It sums up its findings with the following questions: “Why in one of the countries with the largest natural resources in the world do so many live in poverty? Why do developed countries in which there is no oil or gas live many times better than us according to the majority of indicators?”

            “Perhaps,” Krizis-Kopilka says, “this is because in developed countries, there exists political competition, regular changeover in the powers and honest elections which do not allow one ineffective individual (and his friends from the Ozero cooperative) to usurp power for 20 years.”

            Over the two decades Putin has been in power, the share of convinced patriots in Russia has fallen by almost half, from 84 percent to 46 percent; and it quotes Andrey Kolesnikov’s observation that the Putin era cannot show “a single achievement … All achievements are in the past.” And he has not given Russians anything to be proud of since he came to power.

            And it also cites the conclusion of Lev Gudkov that “general concern, dissatisfaction, fear and anger have intensified. And this has led to a heightened assessment of the probability of mass protest,” and more immediately, it has pushed up the share of Russians who think the country is headed in the wrong direction to more than half.

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