Global Politics

Russia feels the pinch

This bank manager says sales of his more expensive safes has been way up recently because people are taking their money out of banks and putting them in their own safes. This market owner says his prices are not easy to keep low these days. The Russian currency has fallen 13% against the Dollar since August, and there are other woes. The Russian stock market is down more than 75% since its high during the spring; the cost of credit is skyrocketing because the price of oil is dropping. What Boris Yeltsin gave away when he bought shares in the country's private oil companies, the government is now buying back. This analyst says Putin is helping his friends and taking back control at the same time. The Kremlin wants stability. Oligarchs borrowed heavily abroad and now creditors are calling in those loans. The analyst believes the Kremlin wants Russian assets to stay in Russian hands. But all this comes at a price. The billions to help shore up the Russian currency and quell oligarchs aren't helping to temper worries. For ten years the Kremlin and the Russian people have had a pact where if the Kremlin delivered more jobs and higher salaries thanks to burgeoning oil and gas revenues, the people would comply politically. The Kremlin is now worried the public will be disaffected so the Kremlin is trying to pacify discontent. Salaries are being slashes partially or entirely for middle and lower class people. This man can't believe the government is saving the oligarchs and doing nothing to help him. Another vendor says Russians feel humiliated and nervous Russians wonder whether ten good years is all they'll get.

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