Before the parliamentary elections: Russians groan under enormous price increases

Status: 16.09.2021 10:11 a.m.

For many people in Russia, everyday things have become almost unaffordable. Price explosions in many areas are eating away at their salaries. Before the Duma election, however, President Putin only reacted with small gifts of money.

By Stephan Laack, ARD Studio Moscow

The Duma elections in Russia begin tomorrow. For three days, a total of more than 110 million people are called to elect a new parliament. But there was no lively debate on the most important issues, and there was no election campaign worthy of the name, says Russian political scientist Dmitrij Orlov on the Echo Moskwie broadcaster. “The ad campaigns are boring,” he says.

He had not been able to observe an increase in political information or agitation activities towards the end of the election campaign. “Even the appearances during the debates or the campaign appearances were kept very traditional. For many voters and even for the observers, that is boring.”

Inflation at five-year high

The parties’ election advertisements are on television. Some give at least an idea of ​​what could really be debated: fighting inflation, which has reached a five-year high of almost seven percent. Or the enormous price increases that are bothering many Russians.

“Russia is the richest country in the world. Its resources should benefit all citizens,” said the communist commercial. The right-wing populist LDPR is even more specific: “The people take out loans out of sheer hopelessness. Even the young people are deeply in debt.”

And the hopeless party of pensioners alludes to the fact that there is no real opposition in the Duma if all parties always vote like the ruling party. “For 30 years the same parties have promised us a sweet life and ultimately act on orders against the citizens.”

Hardly any money for everyday expenses

According to a recent poll by the Levada Center, 66 percent of Russians would like to live in a country with a high standard of living, even if it is not one of the most powerful countries in the world World is. That is a record.

Many Muscovites, regardless of age, groan that a lot has become so expensive or unaffordable. “I used to look a little pityingly at people who were looking for bargains for food. Now I see it very differently and am happy every time I can buy my favorite food cheaply,” says 30-year-old Lilija.

Dmitrij, 35, works in the construction industry. There, too, there are price explosions in almost all areas. Many people could only dream of building a house under these conditions. Consumers can no longer afford any other purchases either. “The car prices alone – how they have risen,” says Dmitrij. In the case of cars, there are also delivery problems and the prices are unimaginable. “It is like that in every area. I have no idea how this should go on.”

60-year-old Tatiana doesn’t know how to pay for everyday expenses. “The prices are rising, but the salary is not. You notice it in all areas – for example with local public transport. How should one live?”

“Single payment is nonsense”

Before the election, President Putin generously distributed gifts of money, such as one-off payments to important groups of voters such as families, pensioners and government employees. In view of the perceived inflation rate of 16.5 percent, this is not just a drop in the ocean, but downright cynical, says economic expert Sergej Zhaworonkow from the Moscow Gajdar Institute.

“The pensioners also got a payout, but it was a one-time action. A single payment of the equivalent of 116 euros is nonsense in my view, given the pension adjustments that have been outstanding for years,” says the economist.

Like other experts, Zhwaronkow does not assume that the Russians will have more money at their disposal in the near future. Rather, it is expected that price increases and inflation will continue to gain momentum. One can only speculate how this will affect the Duma election. Current surveys on the popularity of the parties have recently not been published. Observers, however, expect a low turnout, also in view of the lack of real opposition candidates.

Inflation and price increases are a problem for many Russians

Stephan Laack, ARD Moscow, September 16, 2021 8:58 am

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