The myth of Putin
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.