Old Saint Basil's Cathedral in MoscowJohnson's Russia List title and scenes of Saint Petersburg
Excerpts from the JRL E-Mail Community :: Founded and Edited by David Johnson

Moskovskaya Promyshlennaya Gazeta
January 16-22, 2003
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]

Summing up the results of the past year, the State Statistics Committee registered an amazing phenomenon. While real incomes seem to have risen by 9%, the number of people living beneath the poverty line also increased by 9%. At present, there are 50 million such people, or a third of the population. How can this be?

The secret lies in rising income imbalances. Due to inflation, the cost of the minimal consumer basket is now around 2,000 rubles per month; compare that to the 1,500 ruble salary of a rural teacher. Cabinet and Duma members say they never stop thinking about achieving social harmony. They have promised to greatly increase the salaries of especially poor Russians. The minimum wage will rise from 450 to 600 rubles a month. Student allowances will be doubled to 4,000 rubles a month. At the same time, the Duma has been unable to increase child support payments - they seem to remain at 70 rubles a month. By the way, the consumer basket for a child costs almost as much as an adult's, or 1,795 rubles a month.

Obviously, only Russian tycoons can keep pace with the inflation rate; moreover, they actually dictate its schedule. We can say nothing about the incomes of senior state officials, but Duma members have been brave enough to release the Duma's budget. Last year, the lower house of parliament spent 2 billion rubles on its own maintenance; this year, 2.44 billion rubles will be provided. Roughly calculated, each member of parliament - with many aides and assistants - will receive an additional one million rubles to compensate for inflation.

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