OUR DAILY BREAD
Novoe Vremya, No. 43, October, 2001, p. 15
These days, everyone earns their daily bread any way they can. Surveys show that 55% of Russian citizens have more or less steady or regular employment; 20% are pensioners who do not work; 6% are pensioners who have permanent or temporary jobs. Another 4% of the adult population are students; 3% are women who describe themselves as housewives; 1.5% are women caring for young children. Finally, 10% describe themselves as unemployed; 2% are registered as unemployed, while 7% are seeking work but not registered as unemployed.
There seems to have formed a class of “new poor” – the people who spare on the food not to mention the fact that purchasing manufactured goods are out of the question, but who have apartments and housing property, which cannot be sold now owing to their decrepitude. A new Russian poor is, for instance, an undernourished pensioner, who watches a beautiful life in Mexico on a color TV.
Some 95% of families have refrigerators, 90% of families own a color TV; 83% of families have washing machines, and 72% possess vacuum cleaners. Some 22% of them have kitchen units, and 8% of families have a separate freezer. At the same time the fridge is empty, the kitchen unit is covered with rust, and the car is a Zaporozhets without wheels. Despite owning some property, the majority of the population lives in poverty. As defined by them, 5% say that they “live in poverty and are undernourished” and 27% “deprive themselves of almost everything since they use all their money to buy food.” As approximately 35% say, “they barely make both ends meet.” They can be placed among the group of “relative impoverishment.” Finally, some 30% can be called prosperous people, according to the Russian standards: 27% say that they “live decently, even though we have to work with our last strength,” and 3% can be related to really rich – they say they are “in easy circumstances, denying themselves nothing.”
Despite the fact that a decade has passed since the start of the radical reforms, the majority of people, as 58% of the population think, cannot adapt themselves to life under market conditions, and a smaller part – 34% – assume that “the majority adapts themselves.” People’s attitude toward jobs proves that the mentality pattern of many people has not yet changed since the Soviet times: 66% say they would like to have “even if small, but stable wage and confidence in the future”; 4% would like to have “even if small wage, but more free time and easier jobs.” People who prefer “work much and be well-paid, even without any guarantees for the future” make 22% and they are at the anti-pole. Other 8% would love to “have their own business and manage it at their own risk. As is clear, approximately one-third of the people have got accustomed to the capitalism and other two-thirds either cannot or do not want to do that.
At the same time, despite the current difficulties the number of people, who would love the Soviet times to return has been permanently decreasing – now there are 45% of them, whereas some 5 years ago they made 55% of the population.
NO ANTHRAX EXPECTED IN RUSSIA THIS WINTER
Inostranets, October 23, 2001, p. 5
As Russia’s experts on the anti-terror affairs note, a more scary weapon than strains of the anthrax have been launched – “bacteria” of the psychic epidemic. As an expert in the field of extreme psychology said to Itogi, it is very easy to launch the mechanism of false epidemic in the information society. Doing this requires a few confirmed cases to be published by the media. Further expansion of the psychic epidemic goes similar to a common virus disease, by concentration circles from the epicenter: people who reside in the vicinity of the outbreak or have communicated with the diseased start to seek for the symptoms of the disease by themselves. The most suspicious find them, falling into depression and infecting the people around them.
The psychic epidemic has also started in Russia. Thus, over the last week over 30 reports about suspicious powders, envelopes and parcels have been registered in Moscow. Similar reports of finding suspicious envelopes have emerged in St. Petersburg, the Khabarovsk territory, the Primorie territory and other regions of Russia. Fortunately, nothing scary has been found in all of these mail deliveries. Nonetheless, some state departments have announced their transition on especial rules of working with the correspondence. As experts of the sanitary epidemiological station told us that an outbreak of the anthrax in Russia is almost completely ruled out. The point is that anthrax spores only expand actively in temperatures over 15 degrees Celsius.
WILL THE GUERRILLAS PAY A VISIT?
Granista Rossii, No. 40, October, 2001, p. 2
Colonel General Nikolai Reznichenko, senior deputy director of Russia’s Federal Border Guard Service, does not rule out that “guerrillas from Afghanistan may attempt to cross the border after US missile strikes on the terrorist bases in this country.” Mentioning reconnaissance reports of border guards, he said in his interview to Izvestia that “armed groups of Arab and Pakistani mercenaries and also the guerrillas of the Islamic movement of Uzbekistan are concentrated close to the border opposite the Pyandzh border guard checkpoint. Quite possibly, dependently on the situation, these groups may provoke tension on separate border districts or even try to break through the line of defense. They will need refuge.”
Asked whether border guard reconnaissance possesses any information of availability of chemical or biological weapons by the Taliban, the general replied: “No one has exact information about this. Do not forget that we scout not the entire territory of Afghanistan, but only the areas neighboring the border. Some indirect signs permit us saying that until recently the Taliban was continuing work on creating weapons of mass destruction. Anyway, they have created special laboratories for this purpose.”
UKRAINIAN CARRIER ROCKETS TO APPEAR IN BRAZIL
Inostranets, October 23, 2001, p. 5
In January 2002 the National space agency of Ukraine intends to conclude an agreement of establishing a joint venture with its Brazilian counterpart. The joint venture will be designed for using Ukrainian Tsiklon-4 carrier rockets for launching spacecraft from the Brazilian space ground Alcantora. Under successful concourse of circumstances this project may be executed in 2-3 years already.
UNESCO TO RESTORE EDUCATION IN CHECHNYA
Inostranets, October 23, 2001, p. 5
On October 16 in Paris, Deputy Prime Minister Valentina Matvienko and UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura signed an agreement that UNESCO would allocate $300,000 for restoration of the education system in Chechnya. According to Valentina Matvienko, the agreement will be fully financed at the expense of UNESCO; this organization will also decide where the funds should be sent.
SMALL BUSINESS IS BETTER THAN BIG BUSINESS
Finansovaya Rossiya, October 25, 2001, p. 3
This week the State Statistics Committee released the results of a detailed study of small business, was carried out in 2000.
The investigation is unprecedented; thus far, small businesses have been investigated selectively only. However, this time the SSC managed to acquire forms from 673,000 small businesses of Russia, which makes almost three-third of the total number of the operating enterprises. As results of the investigation show, 10.2% of the entire number of employees work at small businesses; they enjoy 2% of the capital assets and 4.6% of the total investments into the economy of Russia. The major part (44.3%) of all the small businesses is concentrated in the sphere of trade and catering, and they make a half of the turnover of wholesale trade and a quarter of retail trade. Small business does not have any peculiar significance for the industries. However, there are industries where the small businesses feel comfortable; for instance, the proportion of small businesses in the printing industry is 26% and in the timber industry they make up 11%.
The main and relatively sensational conclusion of the investigation is that small business in Russia is more efficient than big business. As SSC deputy chairman Oleg Rybak said, this conclusion was “unexpected” for statisticians. As it turned out, labor productivity at small businesses is 1.5-2 times higher than the average labor productivity in Russia. Obviously, there are reasons for such successes. The fact that small business is deprived of state support and operates in conditions of harsher competition is one such reasons. Inefficient businesses fail to survive in the small business sector. As the investigation learned, one-fifth of the total number of small businesses are on the brink of bankruptcy.