The myth of Putin

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

un­der­write a sig­nif­i­cant part of the Rus­sian na­tional bud­get and the price of en­ergy has fallen since 2014. In a so­ci­ety still shaped from the cen­ter, a bud­get cri­sis at the fed­eral level poses a se­vere chal­lenge. Rus­sia has been in a deep re­ces­sion for al­most two years. Ac­cord­ing to the Rus­sian fi­nance min­is­ter, the gov­ern­ment’s pri­mary re­serve fund, which was $91.7 bil­lion in Septem­ber 2014, will be ex­hausted by the end of 2017.

Dur­ing the Soviet de­cline in the 1980s, and through­out the 1990s, the ev­i­dence of eco­nomic desta­bil­i­sa­tion was sub­tler in Mos­cow and St. Peters­burg than in the smaller cities and towns and the coun­try­side that con­sti­tute the heart of Rus­sia. It was here that life be­came dis­as­trous. And this was the re­gion that saw Putin as the so­lu­tion to its prob­lems. And Putin was, for about a decade, the so­lu­tion. He did two things. First, he used oil rev­enues to cre­ate the foun­da­tions of a bear­able, if not af­flu­ent, stan­dard of liv­ing. Sec­ond, he re­stored the per­cep­tion that Rus­sia is a big player on the world stage. This was a re­gion of deep pa­tri­o­tism. The poverty that came with Boris Yeltsin gen­er­ated both a cyn­i­cism and a lack of faith in the sys­tem. Putin made life bear­able and made it clear that Rus­sia was back.

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