Staunton, June 13 – Increasing concentration of wealth at the top and a growing number of poor at the bottom sets the stage, the Nezygar telegram channel says, for class conflicts by 2024, something it suggests could become “a key factor” destabilizing the country and any “transition” the Kremlin may hope to arrange.
Such class conflicts are likely to break out first in those places where income inequality has become greatest, including Moscow and the oil and gas producing regions, but they are likely to extend to other regions quickly, the telegram channel suggests (t.me/russica2/38704 discussed at yakutiafuture.ru/2021/06/13/nezygar-neravenstvo-mozhet-sprovocirovat-socialno-klassovyj-krizis-k-2024-godu/).
The central elite can see this and so feels itself under increasing pressure to introduce progressive taxation, but even if it does so, that will affect only new incomes and not existing wealth and thus do little to reduce the differences between the top ten percent and the bottom ten percent at least over the next two years.
Consequently, the problems that everyone can see can be addressed in only three ways: boosting the incomes of the poor, something the Putin regime seems utterly incapable of doing in the absence of a return to high oil prices; compelling the wealthiest to fund programs for the poor directly, something likely to be limited; or directly attacking the rich while imposing tighter controls on the poor.
The last is probably the most likely. If the Kremlin adopted that strategy, it would present itself as a populist defender of the poor against the rich; but if it did, it would alienate at least some of those on whom it has most relied up to now, leaving it with a Hobson’s choice that makes class conflict in the coming months far more likely than at any time in the recent past.