FEWER RICH IN RUSSIA

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FEWER RICH IN RUSSIA

Nezavisimaya Gazeta – Politeconomia, No. 2, February, 2001, p. 6

According to the State Statistics Committee, income disparity in Russia decreased in 2000. However, the bad news is that this has not come about due to any rise in the prosperity of the majority of Russians. In both 1999 and 2000 the poorest 10% of Russian citizens accounted for only 2.4% of total income. As for the richest 10%, their incomes were 32.3% of the total in 2000 – against 33.3% in 1999. Of course, a difference of 1% is not very impressive. And it leads to a sad conclusion: the rich have become a little poorer, but the living standards of the poor have not changed.

LOOKING FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS

Finansovaya Rossia, No. 4, February, 2001, p. 5

Is there a middle class in Russia? The class that is the foundation of stability in all developed countries? According to the Economic Analysis Bureau, there is.

The analysts have determined the five defining features of members of the middle class. Besides a certain income level, they must have some property (a car, or a second apartment); a certain amount of savings; an education; and, finally, they must feel like successful and worthy members of society. Only 1-2% of Russians have all five features. This is the ideal middle class, which is numerically equal to the elite, the new Russians and the tycoons.

Then the analysts decided to extend the definition of middle class to all who have at least three of the five features. About 20-25% of Russian citizens meet these criteria. A characteristic of the Russian middle class is its low percentage of entrepreneurs, compared to Western nations, and its high educational level. At the same time, the Russian middle class is contrasted with the impoverished majority. Russia is only slightly behind some of the Latin American countries in terms of social inequality. However, in Brazil all the poor are illiterate, while Russia leads the world in having the highest number of impoverished intellectuals and hungry students per capita. Apparently, this is why opinion polls show that half of Russian citizens have middle class values. They only need a little more money to become the foundation of stability in Russia.

RUSSIA IS A DANGEROUS PLACE FOR JOURNALISTS

Inostranets, No. 3, February, 2001, p. 4

During the parliamentary hearings at the Council of Europe on freedom of speech in Russia, experts from the BBC World Service presented a report. According to the report, journalists in Columbia and Russia are the most at risk in the course of their duties; three journalists were killed in each country in 2000.

However, according to Russian analysts, in Russia the situation is much worse than in Columbia: in fact, over the past year about 15 journalists have been killed, and three more disappeared without a trace. The statistical discrepancies are explained by the difference in legal practice between Europe and Russia. In Europe a journalist is considered to have died in the line of duty if this is registered by the court, the prosecutor’s office, or the police. In Russia, according to the Glasnost Protection Foundation, the authorities usually do not acknowledge that journalists have been killed in the line of ducty.

DEFENSE INDUSTRY BREAKS RECORDS

Rossia, No. 5, February, 2001, p. 1

In 2000, the production volume of the Russian defense industry increased by 25% against 1999. According to Leonid Safronov, deputy minister for industry, science, and technology, “the major factors in this growth were an increase in state arms procurement and repayments of some debts”. The volume of civilian goods produced by defense industry enterprises also increased by 20.3%.

STRATEGIC MISSILE FORCES TO BE DIVIDED

Nezavisimoe Voennoye Obozrenie, No. 5, February, 2001, p. 1

The Defense Ministry and the General Staff have worked out a plan for dividing the Missile Forces into two branches: the Strategic Missile Forces and the Space Forces. The division should be carried out in accordance with the Armed Forces development plan for 2001-05 and a presidential decree. The Space Forces will be subordinate to the General Staff. A special commission of the Defense Ministry, which is to start work on this soon, is supposed to compile proposals on forming the new branches and their command.

PUTIN AT A LOSS – WAIT FOR EXPLOSIONS

Zavtra, No. 6, February, 2001, p. 1

According to our Kremlin sources, the last week was noted for the increased uncertainty of President Putin, who has suddenly lost all his main supports in both the administrative elite and in the media. According to the same sources, the president has become hostage to a “stalemate”; he is unable to influence any of the opposing group in his inner circle. In this situation, Alexander Voloshin, head of the presidential administration and Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov have met to discuss possible changes in the Cabinet and the government as a whole. The first consequence of the meeting has been direct pressure on Governor Yevgeny Nazdratenko of Primorye, as a result of which he had to resign.

As Putin was about to sign the dismissal for Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo, he was interrupted by a call from Yumashev, who told Putin that in the opinion of Boris Yeltsin this would not be expedient; and this was accepted as an instruction.

According to our analysts, all these developments, as well as the start of a new stage of the military operation in Chechnya, may lead to more terrorist bomb blasts in Moscow and other Russian cities.

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