In 2008, there were approximately 18.5 million people in Russia living below the poverty line.
Moreover, since the economic crisis poverty rose by 1.1 percent leaving about 13 percent of the population living below the poverty line. The income inequality gap is currently the most pervasive issue with economic growth not lifting all socioeconomic classes.
President Vladimir Putin has realized that the Russian government is not doing enough to support the impoverished people living in his country. One problem is that social services are not strong enough to support the growing amount of people living in poverty in Russia.
Concurrently, more billionaires live in Moscow than in either New York City or London. The global crisis in 2008 crippled the Russian economy and shrunk it by 9.5 percent.
“The official poverty rate has gone up by precisely six million people. All of the gains in fighting poverty during the period 2000-2008 have been utterly wiped out,” writer Dmitri Butrin said.
There are immense disparities between the rural poor and the urban elites living in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Yet the Kremlin remains politically unaffected by the increase in economic instability due to the tightly controlled Russian media. The problem is mainly in the integrated global economy.
Rising oil prices in 2010 brought reprieved the Russian economy and boosted economic fortitude. However, oil prices fell steadily for several months which is causing the ruble to collapse; the Russian poor are in a much worse position than before.
Russia also has serious budget problems contributing to the economic slump. One-third of the budget is committed to defense and the military industrial complex. Mr. Putin’s commitment to putting up a strong front to the West over the Ukraine is taking priority to the current economic problems facing the poor.
“For Putin the priority is the army, the secret service and the bureaucracy. And also financing pensioners, the main supporters of the regime,” Boris Nemtsov, an opposition leader and former deputy prime minister.
Mr. Putin is not swaying from his plan of investing 20 trillion rubles into rearmament. Former economic advisor, Alexei Kudrin stated “I have the impression that at all levels of power, including the first person (Putin), there isn’t an objective assessment of the challenges before Russia.”
Vladimir Putin is not assessing his priorities with the poor populations of Russia in mind. In this case, geopolitical concerns are taking precidance and this is hurting the people in the lower socioeconomic classes.
– Maxine Gordon
Sources: The Guardian, Yahoo News
Photo: Motor City Times