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Friday, January 11, 2008

Inflation Cuts Russia to the Quick

Bloomberg reports that Russia's overall consumer price inflation jumped a breathtaking 32% in 2007 over what it was in 2006 -- from 9% two years ago to 11.1% last year. And that's just the overall rate. People earning Russia's average wage of $3.00/hour don't pay that -- they pay the rate that affects the tiny basket of goods and services they can actually afford. The rate on those items is far higher than the overall rate, no word yet on how much higher it was, but the figure is probably close to double the overall rate. It was the first year since 1998 that the country has seen inflation fail to fall from one year to the next.

More proof of the wonders of Vladimir Putin's rule.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Putin's corporatization of Roosha does not seem to be helping people.

All that oil money - where's it going? To a few thugs that are in with Putin.

This is a really, really sad story from the LA Times.

Excerpt pasted in below.,0,5711980.story?coll=la-home-center

From the depths of Moscow

Email Picture
Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles Times
A disabled man begs in the Moscow Metro. “When you take that escalator down and look at those faces, get hit with all of that anxiety, all of the worry, it’s incredible,” one Russian says of the subway.
A commuter new to the city is haunted by the images of the poor and desperate and buoyed by glimpses of kindness she sees on the subway.
By Megan K. Stack, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
January 8, 2008
MOSCOW -- The old woman's back was so hunched she couldn't get her chin off her chest. Wrapped in layers of ratty sweaters, she stood meekly against a tile wall, one hand extended. Elderly Russians are everywhere in the subway tunnels beneath Moscow, begging for pocket change. Still, looking at her, I felt a stab of melancholy.

Then four mean-looking teenagers in scarred leather jackets rushed past her. They muttered to one another, turned back and surrounded her.

Down escalator
click to enlarge

Packed subway station
click to enlarge
My stomach clenched in panic. But then I realized what I was seeing. These kids, who slouched and stank of cigarettes and beer, were digging furiously through their pockets, handing the old woman every coin they could scrape together.

Since moving to Moscow seven months ago, I've been schooled in the stark realities of Russian society by daily rides to language classes and the office on the Metro. The vast sprawl of tracks and tunnels seems to offer a direct line into Moscow's soul -- a place of faded elegance and hopeless cynicism, debauchery and destitution, barely contained brutality and touches of kindness.

It's potent stuff, and some days I just don't have the stomach for it. I have to force myself to walk into the station, and spend the whole commute staring at my shoes, afraid of what I'll see if I let my eyes rove.

But there is something in these halls that tells a story about Russia itself, a monument to communist days, when underground palaces, glittering in chandeliers, decked in mosaics and frescoes and Stalin-era sculpture, were built for the common commuters.

Now they are shabby and cramped, the bulbs burning out in the chandeliers, the halls a miserable jam of too many frazzled bodies. Up above, wild Moscow rages along, lawless and mad, cold and rich. Down below, the trains are roaring through the dark, miss this one and the next will be right behind it.

The Metro is where you'll find the people who are just scraping by in the shadow of oil wealth, and the ones who have already fallen through the cracks. It's the haunt of stray dogs and lovesick teenagers, homeless alcoholics and wounded veterans, tourists and bone-weary commuters.

The sight of a stray dog startled me early one morning. He was limping confusedly on three legs in the tangle of the turnstiles. His front paw dangled. It appeared to be split in two, dripping blood, as if somebody had stomped on it. He was glancing around desperately, as though he was looking for help.

Hundreds of commuters clogged the station, but nobody stopped for the dog. An old man bent down over him for a moment, then hurried along. I was on the other side of the turnstile, fumbling for my card. When I looked up again the dog had melted into the forest of legs.

I peered around, but I couldn't see him anywhere. I stared at the rows and rows of students, workers, pensioners -- an anonymous mob, stolid and stone-faced.