Staunton, June 1 – Like some other governments around the world, the Russian powers that be are providing support not so much to those among the poor who need it most but rather to those groups within that category whose support the regime needs. As a result, those who need help most often aren’t getting it and find themselves slipping deeper and deeper into poverty.
On the basis of World Bank figures, Russian economists have concluded that “the system of social support in the Russian Federation does not set as its goal the support of ‘the poor.’ Instead, it sets as its goal the support of ‘the needy,’” not in their own terms but in terms of how much they are needed by the powers (newizv.ru/article/general/01-06-2021/spasi-sebya-sam-tsel-sotsialnoy-podderzhki-v-rossii-eto-pomosch-ne-bednym-a-nuzhnym).
What that means is that even though Russia spends more on social supports than do many other governments, it has not and indeed does not intend to reduce poverty as such but only the hardships among those groups of the population which either support it already or who can be encouraged to do so by such support.
According to the latest World Bank report, “in the Russian system of social support, unlike those of many other countries, assistance to the lowest income categories of the population is not a priority.” Moscow helps those with lower incomes who support it rather than the poor as such. As a result, poverty has not been cut as much as the Kremlin has promised.
Indeed, in Russia, “the poor are becoming fewer only on paper” because most social support payments are going not to them but to those with slightly higher incomes who are the chief backers of the incumbent regime. They may benefit but only at the price of intensifying the poverty of those below them.
Unless the system is fundamentally reformed, the World Bank figures suggest, there will in fact be more poor Russians in the future than there are now even though the regime will spend more money and report reductions in poverty on a continuing basis.