Monday, May 8, 2023

Few Russians Get the Big Paychecks at Defense Factories Moscow Promises and Those who Do are Forced to Give Back ‘Contributions’ to War Effort

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 4 – Since Vladimir Putin launched his expanded war against Ukraine, Russian media have been filled with stories about astronomically high wages in the country’s defense factories as part of an effort to attract the workers needed to expand production to wartime levels.

            But an investigation at four of the largest of these plants by the independent Verstka news agency finds that these media stories are largely false. Only a tiny fraction of workers are paid the high salaries and then only if they work double shifts that leave them time only for work and sleep.

            And not only they but others who may earn more than they did in earlier jobs are being forced to give back much of the difference in the form of nominally voluntary “contributions” to the war effort, yet another way in which Moscow is failing to live up to its promises (

            As a result, the Verstka investigation says, many of those who go to work on the basis of these promises are leaving and the plants themselves still suffer from the same worker shortages they did before the war started. Many who leave say that any increase in pay they did receive was more than eaten up by inflation and by the higher costs of living near defense plants.

            The investigation also reported something else: in many cases, workers say, there haven’t been the new orders for military equipment that the plants and they had expected, often apparently because construction cannot be carried out given that components that had been imported are no longer available because of sanctions.

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