Brutal Sexism Continues in Putin’s Russia

Radio Free Europe reports:

It’s one of the most visible changes on Moscow’s streets. Twenty years ago, you could go weeks without seeing a single woman driver. Now it seems there’s a woman behind the wheel of every second car.

One of them is Lera Labzina, who’s been driving for two years and says that makes her “very, very happy.”

“Driving represents another step toward women’s independence,” she says.

The explosion of women drivers on the streets reflects a seismic shift in lifestyles since Russians threw off communism two decades ago. Increasing numbers of women are occupying top jobs in areas previously seen as male domains. But although there are more women lawyers, businesspeople, and other professionals than ever, not everyone’s happy about it.

That includes Nikolai Mukhin, who says only men should be allowed to drive.

“When I’m waiting at a traffic light,” he says, “I keep an eye on the light, but what do women do? They’re putting on lipstick. For them it’s normal to read a magazine at the wheel. It’s a dangerous situation.”

That’s a common view in what’s still a highly paternalistic society. Even many women drivers say they can’t drive well. Women may be more emancipated than at any time in Russian history, but general attitudes toward the role they play in society remain positively medieval.

Patriarchal Society

Gender studies scholar Elena Zdravomyslova says even as Russia’s capitalist boom is enabling women to make their own decisions about where to work and when, if ever, to marry and raise families, there’s a growing disparity between reality and deep-rooted sexist attitudes.

“Women work in traditionally male professions,” she says. “They drive cars, take part in business, but the public discourse is still about how women have different brains and that their psychological differences from men prevent them from taking an equal part in society.”

Tales of discrimination are legion.

Olga Allenova, a well-known correspondent for “Kommersant” newspaper who covers the volatile Caucasus Mountains region, says confronting sexism is an unavoidable part of her job reporting in conflict zones.

“I’ve been refused permission to join other journalists on press trips,” she says, “or ride in military helicopters, on the principle that women simply aren’t allowed. I’ve had to learn to deal with those situations.”

Legacy of Patriarchalism

Attitudes about women today are a legacy of centuries of patriarchal rule in society, when the head of the household made decisions for everyone. Under the Soviet Union, the traditional image of women as subservient to men changed — on the surface at least — because of state ideology, which prescribed gender equality. The government used subsidies to encourage women to occupy the ideal, double role of working mother — especially when a shortage of men, who died by the millions during World War II, meant women had to fill in working in factories, driving trams, and doing other blue-collar jobs.

But men occupied the highest posts, and behind the propaganda, attitudes toward women remained far more traditional than in the West. Zdravomyslova says that’s especially true today outside the capital, where very little has changed.

“Russians have much stricter limits in their perceptions about gender roles — what’s a man, what’s a woman,” she says. “Society restricts its discussions to those limits.”

In the 1980s, Raisa Gorbacheva, the glamorous and independent-minded wife of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, provided a new role model for women by playing a prominent role in her husband’s affairs. But she was widely disliked at the time, and Russian leaders’ wives have since been much less visible in public.

Still, as women continue playing an ever-greater role in society, Zdravomyslova says in Moscow at least, perceptions are slowly changing, especially among younger men who tend to be more exposed to global culture.

‘A Man’s World’

But not all change is for the better when it comes to women’s independence. Zdravomyslova says the new main roles offered up by popular culture today are as housewife and sex symbol.

A recent television commercial for lingerie shows long-legged women dressed only in stiletto heels and underwear, one of hundreds of such images bombarding Russians every day. Zdravomyslova says advertisements, television programs, and glossy magazines are “aggressively sexualizing” the common idea of women’s roles in society, and reinforcing traditional attitudes.

It’s those entrenched attitudes that are helping perpetuate one of Russia’s darkest secrets: domestic violence that’s so pervasive many see it as a normal part of everyday life, in a country where an old saying advises, “If he beats you, he loves you.”

The government’s own figures estimate 14,000 women die each year from domestic violence. That’s the death of one woman at the hands of her husband or partner every hour. It’s more than 10 times the number of deaths in the United States, which has twice Russia’s population.

Larisa Ponarina of the Anna Center for Domestic Violence says it’s impossible to tell exactly how many victims of domestic violence there are because the authorities aren’t interested in the issue. She says no accurate statistics are kept, in a country whose legal system doesn’t even provide restraining orders for victims of abuse.

“It’s still a man’s world,” she says. “There’s no conviction at the top of society that women should be advanced, and of course that influences society as a whole.”

Slow Change

Back on Moscow’s streets, driver Lera Labzina says she believes some attitudes will never change.

“Men have never accepted women drivers,” she says, “and I don’t think they ever will.”

Such problems can’t be seen apart from much larger issues in social behavior, including a general lack of respect for rule of law and human rights, says Irina Mikhaylovskaya, editor of the Russian edition of “Forbes Style.”

“We never thought about Russia as a country where women are oppressed,” she says. “People are oppressed, not just women. That’s true about Russia and the Soviet Union.”

If change does come, Mikhaylovskaya says, it will be very slow.

“We’re so far away from the West,” she says, “it’s not a question of some years or even a generation.”

55 responses to “Brutal Sexism Continues in Putin’s Russia

  1. World economic forum believes the Italian sexism is much worse than Russian one (Italian sexism in Europe can only be compared to Chezh one, and Greek one). As to Georgia (which we all adore here in Russia), their sexism is twice worse, according to the WEF. Still better than in Japan. But worse (still talking of Georgia) than sexism in Venezuela.

    Find yourself fckd up again, team? Life’s harsh to noobs.

  2. As a child I watched my father working the clutch and shifting the transmission in the old Model A until when I drove at age 9 I understood how not to wear out the clutch.

    Mother never understood clutches and always needed to be watched.

    Similarly with cooking which is extremely exacting and requires ruined food before the “cook” learns.

    W0men can now drive because the machinery is improved with torque converters instead clutches. Clutches required training. Also torque converters do not wear out.

    Anybody can run machinery (drive cars) with improved equipment. Anybody can do anything (even operate clutches) with training.

  3. The fact is there is change. If women are driving that indicates change.

    The Putin regime is a setback, but progress is taking place.

    Excessive alcohol consumption is probably responsible for most attacks on women.

    The article actually indicates change and hope for the future.

  4. Strange it may seem to you, but changes were happening exactly in Putin’s years:D The share of women drivers doubled during 2000-2008, and continues to grow. In Moscow, men at the weel will soon be a minority.

  5. “there’s a growing disparity between reality and deep-rooted sexist attitudes”

    The article is wonderful. I just can not stop but wonder what exactly did the Russowriter (WTF is it?) meant when he said it.

    Taking in account, both public opinions (including sexist stereotypes) and women drivers’ statistics are real, the phrase sounds like “there’s a growing disparity between reality and the actual state of affairs”:)

    • If you ask ANY man in ANY country in a friendly conversation, he’ll tell you than women should better cook than drive. The differ3ence is that in some countries you can voice this opinion, and in some you cannot.

  6. If you ask ANY man in ANY country in a friendly private convesration, he’ll tell you that women should better cook than drive. The problem is that in some countries this opinion can be voiced in public, and in some not.

    • Dmitryo show off, really, it's just wrong.

      Wrong. No, I’m not trying t

    • Sorry, my PC went ballistic:)

      I wanted to say what you say is wrong. I know many – I mean 40% of women I know – women who are much better in driving, and are much better in business than men.

      And this is the same among my friends in Paris and Geneve as well. Women can work more, they better work under stress, they demand less – they are just better workers for most businesses.

      In Moscow business community, I believe, about 20-30% MDs are women now, and at least 40-50% dept.heads are women. I guess this means in 5-10 years, 40-50% MDs would be women, right?

  7. By change I did not mean there is progress. Yes more women are driving, but the standard of living is declining. Corruption under the Putin regime means the common people are becoming more and more poor. Russia is in decline and there is no push back from the people.

    • Ron, who told you that living standards are declining? When did you visit Russia last? The living standards have been going up for the last 10 years, with a setback in 2008, which will take about 2 years to overcome. I come to Russia on a yearly basis, and, on the whole, the country is much better off every time.

        • AT, the standard of living is really only rising in Moscow and St.Petersburg.

          Try living anywhere else and you will see that standards of living are dropping.

          • BS. I have many business trips, and communicate with people from different regions. What you say is a BS.

          • Andrew, my family lives some 2,000 km east of Moscow, and I travel regularly to about 5 cities in Russia. You simply don’t know what you are talking about.

            • Well AT, the UN says I do.

              Russia’s standard of living to drop
              By Paul A. Goble

              Moscow’s excessive reliance on profits from the export of oil and gas — the centerpiece of Vladimir Putin’s policies – has been contributing to a significant decline in the standard of living of most Russians beyond the capital’s ring road even as it has boosted the country’s GDP, according to a UN report on “Energy and Stable Development.”

              As a result, Nataliya Zubarevich, a geographer at Moscow State University who helped prepare the report says, “there is oil and gas [in Russia] but no happiness,” at least outside Moscow, the oil and gas producing regions of Khanty-Mansiisk and Yamalo-Nenets, and the processing center in Tyumen. See here.

              Because the Russian government has “incorrectly” relied on oil and gas profits alone to show economic growth, she continues, there has been a decline in the well-being of Russian citizens, not only in terms of income but also in health, education and other social services.

              Indeed, the report points out, in order to support oil and gas exports, Russia has to spend nearly five percent of its GDP to support the oil and gas infrastructure, an amount that severely limits Moscow’s ability to invest in the modernization of the country and that will largely preclude it as the cost of drilling increases and Russia’s production of oil and gas declines.


              • Andrew, this article is probably as reliable as those that said that there are 14K of women killed by their husband in Russia or that the Russian government claimed there were 2,000 victims in Ossetia. Your problem you trust everything negative you read about Russia online. If you went to Perm, Nizhny Novgorod, Ekaterinburg in 2000 and in 2010, you would see the difference. I see it. Russians see it. If Goble does not see it, he either does not know what he is talking about. Actually, the improvements in Khanty-Mansisk infrastructure are particularly noticeable.

                • AT, you are a cretin, as the report says:

                  at least outside Moscow, the oil and gas producing regions of Khanty-Mansiisk and Yamalo-Nenets, and the processing center in Tyumen

                  As for your absolutely retarded comment that the Russian government did lie and claim 200 dead civilians in Russia, well here you are, the lying piece of Russian filth also claimed that Georgia was committing genocide when in fact it was Russian troops and separatist militia that were committing acts of ethnic cleansing against Georgian civilians:
                  Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Saturday defended his country’s military actions in the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia, saying what was happening there was “genocide,” news agencies reported.

                  Georgia, which has close ties with the West, and Russia came into direct conflict over the pro-Russian rebel region after Tbilisi launched an offensive earlier this week to regain control over it.


                  Russian officials said the death toll now stood at 2,000 and 30,000 refugees from South Ossetia had fled to Russia over the past 36 hours. Russia said two of its warplanes had been shot down, 13 of its soldiers killed and 70 wounded.


                  • Thats should be:

                    Your absolutely retarded claim that the Russian government did not lie and claim 200o dead civilians in Tshkinvali alone.

                    And here is another quote from a Russian official:

                    Russia’s ambassador to Georgia, Vyacheslav Kovalenko, told Interfax that at least 2,000 civilians had died in Tskhinvali alone since Georgia attacked the region on Friday and Russia responded with tanks, air raids and ground troops.

                    The Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili, dismissed Russian casualty claims as “a lie”, saying very few civilians had died.


                    • Andrew, do you realize that, in all your long slew of articles there is one reference to the 2,000 figure quoted by a Russian ambassador – an important official who, nevertheless, cannot speak for the whole government. One claim. Never reiterated. Never subscribed by anyone who can speak for the Russian government. Never made part of any official statistics. Made in the middle of the war. In fact, deceipt is fully justified during the war. Your complaining about this would be like Hitler’s complaining that the exact location of the US landing in France has never been disclosed to him.

                    • Really AT, so you consider that lying about casualties by the Russian state, and Russian state media, in order to incite racial hatred and commit ethnic cleansing against Georgians is justified?

                      What are you?

                      A liar.

                      In addition, the deputy foreing minister also used the 2000 number:

                      Grigory Karasin, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, said 2,000, mostly Russian citizens, have died in South Ossetia since the fighting began.

                      Karasin said: “The results have been catastrophic. More than 2,000 people have died, most of them Ossetians, the majority Russian citizens.”


                      Russian officials, media outlets et all repeatedly used the “2000 dead” in the first few days of the war, and used that number to incite racial hatred, as pointed out by Memorial and HRW, this number was a complete fabrication.

                      You really are a vile little chap AT

                    • More vile propaganda from RT, where Putin makes false accusations of “genocide” while he is in fact ordering the destruction of Georgian villages and the ethnic cleansing of their inhabitants:

                    • State-controlled Russian television repeatedly spoke of a “humanitarian catastrophe” in South Ossetia after the Georgian attack, with more than 2,000 dead and thousands homeless.

                      Read more:

                  • Andrew, what happened? Why all these ad hominem attacks again. I am not impressed with your arguing skills either, but I don’t call you names. Shall I? Back to the kindergarten. Give me one quote from the Russian government, not an article (mis)-quoting the Russian government stating the 2,000 figure. Who are these “Russian officials”? Was there an official press release or this was leaked by a corrupt petty bureaucrat to Haaretz. The same about the 14K of women. Your problem is that you read too many negative articles, dismiss the positive ones and ignore underlying facts.

                    • As for genocide, shelling a city indiscriminately has elements of genocide, no doubt about this in my mind, whether this is Stalingrad, or Dresden, or Tskhinvali, or Grozny.

                    • Really AT, I hate to say it, but your stupidity deserves ad hominem attacks.

                      Putin claimed 2000 dead, the Russian ambassador to Georgia claimed 2000 dead, Russia Today (mouthpiece of the Kremlin) claimed 2000 dead.

                      In addition, shelling of a city is an exaggeration, the only part of the city shelled by the Georgians was that containing the military and government buildings of the separatist administration.

                      However, the deliberate bulldozing of Georgian villages by the Russian army and separatist militia, along with the preplanned murder and ethnic cleansing of their inhabitants, that definitely smacks of state sponsored genocide.

                    • All early drafts of the U.N. genocide convention included social and political groups in its definition. But one hand that wasn’t in the room guided the pen. The Soviet delegation vetoed any definition of genocide that might include the actions of its leader, Joseph Stalin. The Allies, exhausted by war, were loyal to their Soviet allies – to the detriment of subsequent generations.


                    • Andrew, RTR, other yellow press outlets, whether they are someone mouthpieces or not can claim anything they want. You appear to be blindly trusting everything that is printed and you repost the most inaccurate propaganda articles here, including an article with (i) incredible statistics as to the number of women murdered by husbands; (ii) a fake/ misquoted Duma deputy name and (iii) a reference to a non-existing Duma committee. In my book, if a government official does not go on a record saying something in his/her official function, you cannot claim that “the government lied”. I have never watched a full RTR program, and I am sceptical as to sources and figures they quoted in a few brief clips I accidentally saw. I suspect RTR is a somewhat biased channel with some elements of propaganda. If you don’t see is as such, and you trust every number they quote and you think the “Russian government told you so”, then its your problem.

                    • And an indiscriminate shelling of even one tiny part of any city is a genocide practice.

                    • what is RTR?

                    • Russia Today, RT, I guess, not RTR — I guess I have it on cable in English and Spanish. I watched both for a couple of minutes, and at least their economic coverage is horrible, with all that “the US economy is doomed” nonsence.

                    • See above moron, unless you consider the deputy foreing minister of Russia unable to speak for the Russian government as well.

                  • Andrew, your calling people who don’t disagree with you “cretins”, “retards” and “idiots” just shows the nature of your character, not that of your opponents. Do you call your wife that when she disagrees with you? Your subordinates? Your neighbors? Or just people you never meet. Well, so far we got confirmation that exactly two Russian officials mentioned the 2,000 thousand civilian victims number on one day. Could it be just a confusion? Yes. Could it be a legitimate tactic of misinformation targeted against a country, which had declared it was in “a state of war” with Russia? Possible. In the first case, it was not a lie. In the second case, government’s officials did their job. When a war is declared on your country, people expect their government to do everything possible to achieve international isolation, political and military defeat of the enemy. I don’t expect my government — whatever I consider to be my government — to do anything less for me in a state of war with another country. In a war, everyone on the other side who wears a military uniform or arms and all the government officials are legitimate targets of practices that, in a peace time, are not acceptable, including deceipt and the actual killing. Georgia should extremely grateful to its enemy, Russia, that it was spared most of its military and government officials.

                    • Listen AT, I call a spade a spade, and you deserve those comments in spades.

                      The deliberate lies of the Russian government, from Putin, the deputy foreign minister, the (now former) ambassador to Georgia etc were intended to incite hatred and to provide a distraction from Russian crimes against humanity, such as real “genocide” in the form of ethnic cleansing and murder of Georgian civilians.

                      The lie about 2000 dead was described by HRW as a deliberate act of propaganda, and Memorial and the OSCE agreed. It was trumpeted on every Russian TV channel for weeks after the war.

                      It was not confusion, it was deliberate propaganda that incited racial hatred, no different to Serbian TV or radio Rawanda’s call to genocide.

                      As for Georgia “being grateful”, what, for the destruction of towns and villages that Georgians had lived in for over 1,500 years before the Ossetians even turned up?

                      For the continuing racist attacks on Georgians in Akhalgori (renamed Leningori by the occupying Russians and separatists)?

                      For the bombing of non military targets such as the Gori cement works and the Russian fire bombing of Borjomi national park forest?

                      Really AT, you are quite ignorant.

                      I am not at all surprised that you support ethnic cleansing, mass murder, genocide et al, after all you just said you will support whatever “your government” needs to do to achieve “victory”.

                      That shows the evil of your nature all to clearly.

                • Oh here is another one where the Russian government lied and claimed 2000 dead Ossetians:

                  Georgia declares ‘state of war’ over South Ossetia
                  International calls for ceasefire as Moscow claims 2,000 people have died in heavy fighting over separatist region

                  Russia’s ambassador to Georgia, Vyacheslav Kovalenko, told Interfax that at least 2,000 civilians had died in Tskhinvali alone since Georgia attacked the region on Friday and Russia responded with tanks, air raids and ground troops.

                  The Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili, dismissed Russian casualty claims as “a lie”, saying very few civilians had died.


                  Really AT, you are just as much of a lying bastard as anyone in Putins administration.

                • Human Rights Watch: Russia inflating casualty figures
                  Tom Parfitt in Vladikavkaz
                  The Guardian, Thursday 14 August 2008
                  Article history
                  Deliberate attempts by the Russian government to exaggerate the number of people killed in the South Ossetia conflict are provoking revenge attacks on Georgian villagers in the republic, a human rights group claimed yesterday.

                  Anna Neistat of Human Rights Watch, who is leading a team investigating the damage in South Ossetia, told the Guardian that Russian estimates of 2,000 dead were “suspicious”.

                  “Our findings so far do not in any way confirm the Russian statistics.” she said. “On the contrary, they suggest the numbers are exaggerated.”

                  Neistat said that HRW investigators had on Tuesday and Wednesday recorded cases of Ossetian fighters burning and looting Georgian villages north of the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali.

                  “The torching of houses in these villages is in some ways a result of the massive Russia propaganda machine which constantly repeats claims of genocide and exaggerates the casualties,” she said. “That is then used to justify retribution.”

                  Neistat said doctors at Tskhinvali hospital gave figures that 273 wounded had been treated there and 44 dead had been brought to the hospital. “By day five of a conflict one expects that there is some kind of list of the dead and injured. But here there is no information. Nothing.”

                  · This article was amended on Wednesday August 20 2008. This report originally misquoted Anna Neistat. We should have said that 44 dead people had been brought to the city hospital, not the morgue. This has been corrected.


                • And here again is a Russian official claiming 2000 dead and that the city of Tshkinvali was destroyed, when in fact there were very few Ossetian civilians killed, and little damage done to the city by the Georgians.

                  Speaking to Russian news agency Interfax, Russia’s ambassador to Georgia, Vyacheslav Kovalenko, said on Saturday that 2,000 civilians and 13 Russian peacekeepers had been killed in Tskhinvali.
                  “The city of Tskhinvali no longer exists,” he said. “It is gone. The Georgian military has destroyed it.”


                  Actually what was being “totally destroyed” and no longer exists were all the Georgian villages in South Ossetia which pre date the arrival of the Ossetians by around 2000 years, destroyed with the assistance of Russian army engineers one might add.

                • “New poor”
                  In Russia, the first time in 20 years the people of social class, who is willing to resist authority

                  Moscow, September 06 (New Region, Vitaly Akimov) – Over the past few years in Russia there were vast social change. For the first time in 90 years in the society was formed “a new majority”, “new poor “. In an interview with RIA “New Region” said the economist, director of the Institute of Globalization Problems , Mikhail Delyagin.
                  “In the 90’s were all poor or very poor, and now we have formed the so-called upper poor – said Delyagin. – These are people who can buy food and clothes that do not have enough money only for durable goods. This is still poor people, because if you burn a refrigerator, they can not buy a replacement, at least, for them it is a serious problem. But they are not beggars. Of 48%.
                  This is a very good result and the first time in nearly half of society is related to one social group in terms of welfare. And it increases the demands of people in the state, just at a time when the state decided that this cattle can do anything. ”
                  According to experts, a new social formation had already begun to manifest themselves in critical situations and recognize that their interests and state interests do not coincide.
                  “We see the first clash of these positions in a situation with fire. People will defend themselves and in a memo to volunteers, for themselves, wrote that, remember to state you are nobody and you will not pay attention. We can see now it arouses interest to the bill on the police and to other things. That is ahead of some interesting situation, when people begin to realize and defend their rights – predicts the director of the Institute of Globalization Problems.
                  Exacerbates the situation of unmet demand in Russian society for justice.
                  “An example of the growth of inequality – a public humiliation of military pensioners, which occurred when all pensioners have increased pensions, but they do not. This is very much taken by Russian society. This government does not want people who protect it. When people are so clearly do not need national defense, the question arises: “Why?”. Accordingly, there is a feeling that they are confident that they will not defend the Russian army, and some other – American, British, Israeli, Swiss – the place of primary residence, as far as can be judged “, – said Delyagin.
                  Reason for the conflict of the upper and lower strata of Russian society is already brewing. The sharp rise in prices of some food products continue to fall, I’m sure an economist.
                  “In general, you can be sure that the official statistics will not exceed 10% because it is politically significant milestone – said Delyagin. – But the official statistics is in real life the same attitude as the promises of the party “United Russia” for its actions. So, life will become harder.
                  We have bad signals from the steel industry. It’s such anticipatory industry – about the “lag” in six months, it signals problems for the economy as a whole. These problems are related both to the limited demand in world markets because of the continuing economic depressionand domestic problems associated with not very good situation with debt and overly rigid financial policy of the government, excessive competition from imports, and so on. ”
                  The situation in the Russian economy will get worse, experts predict. Prices will rise, living standards – to fall. But the disaster did not.
                  “To say that tomorrow, followed by buckwheat five times more expensive everything else – this is an exaggeration. Once the state price increases will be restrained. Of course, inefficient, but the disaster will not happen. There will be trouble, which greatly worsen from 1 January to traditional growth rates for utility services, the overall growth of aggressive bureaucrats who throw themselves on people like dogs, increased charges for the public sector. And it undermines the welfare of all people.
                  Nothing catastrophic is not expected – the slow, gradual suffocation “- summed up Delyagin. And it could trigger consolidation in the nascent social group of “new poor”.


                • Russia – a country poor

                  Russians spend nearly half their salary to buy food, according to data the Levada polling center. This suggests that Russia – the country poor, and the prerequisites for changing the situation yet, experts state.

                  Nearly half of their monthly income Russians spend to buy food, results in “Interfax data nationwide survey by the Levada Center, held from 16 to 19 April. For comparison: in the crisis in 2009 this took less – 36% of salary. Now, based on research data,

                  to buy food 23% of Russians spend two-thirds of earnings, 20% – slightly less than half, and 10% – all the money.

                  The fact that a large part of his salary is spent on food, shows the low incomes of the poorest sections of the population. Experts point out that two-thirds of the household budget on food spending housewives, pensioners and the Russians with secondary education. Less than half of income spent on food in the families of professionals, managers and managers. Typically, these are people aged 25 to 40 years, with higher education. “The less people earn, the greater share of their expenditures are spending on food. By contrast, the rich still have money to have to buy other things, delay “, – the main specialist of the socio-economic programs of the Centre for Labour Rights Petr Bizyukov.


                  The amounts in the family budget on food – an indicator of poverty, experts explain. “This figure is in contrast to the official statistics can not be deceived: it is the most versatile and definitive indicator of poverty. Here at once, and inflation, and food prices, and wages “,

                  – explains Bizyukov. And it is not surprising that, in connection with the crisis, this share has increased. “If the citizens, spending on food half earnings in the country for more than 50%, we can say that a poor country. We are very close to the brink “, – said deputy director of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, RAS Evgeny Gontmakher. Based on data from Federal State Statistics Service in 2009, the number of poor Russians is 13,1%. Now below the poverty line, defined as the minimum subsistence level (5153 rubles in average for the year) live 18,500,000 people.


                  in developed countries, families spend on food about 20-25% of monthly income. In some countries the figures are even better: in England, for example, on food is spent 11% of household income in France – 14%.

                  And the rest goes not so much on consumer durables and more on savings, insurance, healthcare and education. “Russians are also not accustomed to saving: savings we have only a quarter of families. Even in “fat years” Russians are primarily bought appliances and the like, but do not increase savings “, – said Gontmakher. And, unfortunately, the prerequisites for changing the poverty situation of Russians do not, notes Bizyukov: business and policy aimed at reducing costs in production, and this in turn may lead to a further drop in the size of salaries.


                  • Andrew, no one claims Russia is a rich county. It is exactly #60 on the GDP/capita list. There are 59 countries richer than Russia. Yet, Russia’s position has been improving quite fast, and except for an important 2008 setback, which will take at least 2 years to overcome, things have been improving steadily.

                  • Andrew, what has the democratic government of Saakashvili done since 2004 to make sure less than 40% of Georgian population would be subsistence farmers in the future?

                    I’ll say you what. It took several credits at the people’s expence, and did nothing but armed an army that was destroyed completely during the war Georgia started in 2008.



                    Очень хорошо прослеживается тенденция по снижению числа россиян, питающихся плохо. В 2002 году так говорили 56% опрошенных, в 2004 году – 31%, в 2009 году – 24%, сейчас – лишь 16%.


                    Исследованием охвачено 48 тыс домашних хозяйств, проживающих во всех субъектах РФ.

                    … По сравнению с 2000 годом сократился объем расходов на питание, вырос объем расходов на услуги, куда включается ЖКУ и оплата общественного транспорта. … В 2009 году 26,9% расходов приходилось на услуги, 37,8 %– на непродовольственные товары, 1,7 % – алкоголь, 33,7 % – питания. В 2008 году структура была такова: 25,5 % – услуги, 41 % – непродовольственные товары, 1,6 % – алкогольная продукция, и 21,8 % – продовольствие.

        • Russia’s standard of living to drop
          By Paul A. Goble

          Moscow’s excessive reliance on profits from the export of oil and gas — the centerpiece of Vladimir Putin’s policies – has been contributing to a significant decline in the standard of living of most Russians beyond the capital’s ring road even as it has boosted the country’s GDP, according to a UN report on “Energy and Stable Development.”

          As a result, Nataliya Zubarevich, a geographer at Moscow State University who helped prepare the report says, “there is oil and gas [in Russia] but no happiness,” at least outside Moscow, the oil and gas producing regions of Khanty-Mansiisk and Yamalo-Nenets, and the processing center in Tyumen. See here.

          Because the Russian government has “incorrectly” relied on oil and gas profits alone to show economic growth, she continues, there has been a decline in the well-being of Russian citizens, not only in terms of income but also in health, education and other social services.

          Indeed, the report points out, in order to support oil and gas exports, Russia has to spend nearly five percent of its GDP to support the oil and gas infrastructure, an amount that severely limits Moscow’s ability to invest in the modernization of the country and that will largely preclude it as the cost of drilling increases and Russia’s production of oil and gas declines.

          In an interview with “Svobodnaya pressa,” Zubarevich added that the sale of oil and gas abroad had helped Russia but that the way in which these profits were used now constitutes “a very serious break on development,” one that she suggests will only become worse if Moscow doesn’t change course. See here.

          The UN report itself, she says, reflects that dual assessment. The report’s first section says that earnings from oil and gas gives Russia “a chance for a leap forward in innovative development,” all the more so because some of the technologies used in oil and gas processing can be applied in other fields.

          But the succeeding sections “assess this possibility much more skeptically.” And Zubarevich says that she views that assessment as the more correct. Indeed, she continues, as long as the oil and gas money is flowing in, “the Russian powers that be really are not interested in innovations.”

          Such people don’t need or want change, and they talk about innovations only to make themselves look better “in the eyes of the world.” Because that is so, Zubarevich argues, the distribution of profits is unlikely “to simulate innovations.” Instead, even if money is redistributed more equally, that alone will not promote positive change.

          Indeed, the Moscow geographer says, for innovation, there will need to be “a change of institutions and the rules of the game in society.” People will have to be rewarded not because of where they sit and what they control but rather for what they think up, a complete transformation from the current situation.

          These are “global changes,” she continues, and include “very significant changes in the political space. Without that, nothing will happen.” And those changes involve far more that decentralization of control: they require “competition in the political space and openness in the mass media. Only this will reduce corruption in the system of distribution.”

          “In the institutional design which now exists in the Russian Federation,” Zubarevich said, noting that this was her “personal opinion,” “innovative development is impossible.” And some of the proposals for innovation, such as Academic Zhorez Alferov’s call for a Manhattan Project-style effort, simply won’t work.

          Alferov, Zyubarevich pointed out, “is a member of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation.” He always put the state in first place, and while the state can play some role, the kinds of innovations Russia needs are not “’nano’ and not ‘nuclear research’” but rather a broadening of opportunity for “small innovation improvements in the entire structure.”

          Indeed, she says, even if Russians came up with a breakthrough in nano technology, the country would not be able to introduce it because “we do not have the stimuli and drivers which would be necessary for that kind of innovation.” Perhaps the country can change so that this will be possible, Zubarevich concludes, but it will have to change in major ways.

        • Natalia Zubarevich: dependence on fuel and energy sector – the curse Russia
          No global changes rules of the game in the Russian society innovative development of the country can not be

          Experts of the UN Development Programme at the Institute of Contemporary Development presented the report “Energy and sustainable development.” The report, written under the supervision of professor of economic faculty of Moscow State University Sergei Bobylev, experts have concluded that economic growth in Russia because of the misguided policies of the authorities leads to a reduction in welfare of Russians.

          According to the report, producing around 11.5% of world primary energy, Russia is forced every year to invest 5% of GDP on the maintenance and development of the FEC and 13% for the modernization of the economy. UN experts have criticized the government’s concept of long-term development of Russia until 2020. The report finds that the dependence of the real income of most Russians, education and health systems from the state budget leads to increased poverty, social instability, and decreased quality of life in general. As experts in the fuel and energy sector employs approximately 2.5% of the population of Russia, while the industry generates the bulk of taxes and GDP.

          • Andrew, you’re an idiot. Find gini coefficient numbers for Russia and US and compare. Then go and say whatever about how uneven the distribution of wealth in Russia is.

          • And here’s a serious macroeconomic analysis, not created by a geography student:

            Сергей Гуриев, ректор Российской экономической школы, считает опасения социологов преувеличенными. В выборку статистиков не попадают доходы самых богатых людей и серые доходы самых бедных респондентов. Более точно неравномерность доходов отражает коэффициент Джини, учитывающий их рост в разных группах населения. Коэффициент Джини в России резко вырос в 1990-е гг., но в последние годы, по данным Росстата, он стабилен: 0,399 – в 2002 г., 0,406 – в 2004 г. и 0,42 – в 2007 г. Это выше, чем в таких социально ориентированных странах, как Франция (0,33), Финляндия (0,27) или Швеция (0,25). Однако такие показатели сопоставимы с американскими (0,45). Кроме того, индекс неравенства в России значительно ниже, чем в Китае или Бразилии, где он превысил 0,5 и 0,6 соответственно. Нынешние показатели неравенства в России обусловлены и резкими различиями в уровне развития регионов.

            I’m not going to translate anything for you, Andrew, for you won’t get a thing even from a translated text.

          • Well, so far poverty was dropping, home ownership, car ownership and gdp per capita increasing. I won’t post long articles, just look up statistics, like retail sales growth, real estate sector growth, decline in crime rates… this is all on line. You can claim these figures are not reliable, but they are much more so than figures from articles mentioning Duma deputies and committees that never existed.

  8. AT:

    2008 was not just a temporary setback. It was the end result of massive theft. Nothing can get Russia back to any kind of prosperity without real democracy which means turnover of government by real elections. Sooner or later new faces at the top will bring back prosperity.

    • Er, 2008 happened in Russia only? Or was there democracy non-existent in the US in 2008?

    • A massive theft… a major world economic crisis has nothing to do with it? How do you explain a much worse economic setbacks in the Baltic countries, Iceland, Greece, the decimation of the Ukrainian economy at the same time?

      • The most obvious explanation – Greece, Ukraine, Iceland and Baltics are directly controlled by the Putin dictatorship.

        That was the only reason they fell when Russia stood still in 2008 – Putin personally stole their money and used it to support the corrupt Russian economics and pay larger pensions in Russia.

        • Oh, and remember the bailouts? Medvedev’s control over the Wall Street was the reason. And Luzhkov controlled the US Automotive, but failed to completely destroy it, and is now fired.

          Welcome to the delusional world where Russia was the only country hit in 2008…

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