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Grigory Pasko: Crisis, What Crisis?

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Crisis, what crisis?

Grigory Pasko, journalist

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Head of the Ministry of Finance Alexey Kudrin in the last days of the year gone by noted that inflation in Russia remains at a level higher than 13%, while in the year 2009 devaluation will give rise to additional inflation, i.e. the tempos of inflation will grow.

This signifies that all imported goods will go up in price. Medicines, clothing, food products, household and electronic appliances, automobiles… Inflation in Russia will grow. Fall in the USA, but grow in Russia. An acquaintance arrived from the USa and says: there a liter of gasoline costs half as much as in Russia. This too – a feature of the Putinite economy. This is a crisis that will affect everybody. The reasons for its arising, in general, are understandable. The ways to cure it – also. But only in Russia do they do everything their way, that is, stupidly and to the detriment of the majority.

«And, of course, lending rates can not be lower than inflation,otherwise banks will work at a loss, will go bankrupt and willcompletely stop lending to the economy”, – clarified the vice-premier.That is, people will start to live so much worse that it’s not evenfully comprehensible just how much worse.

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Kudrin asserted that financial problems will not be solved at theexpense of the social sphere, while the interests of budgeteers [workers on the state’s payroll, including teachers, doctors, and bus drivers as well as bureaucrats–Trans.]will not suffer. These words already in those days were not being borneout by anything. They are all the more so not being borne out in thecoming year: the cost of ALL housing-and-public-utilities services inMoscow, as an example, has risen significantly. A ride on the metro hasgotten more expensive. Prices for [food] products have gone up. I’menumerating here only what has caught the eye immediately.

It looks like it will be just now that Russians will start to give athought to what kind of time they’re going to have to live in goingforward. And with what kind of leadership in the country.
But it was not long ago at all, on the eve of the new-year holidays,that one could observe how wastefully they were behaving. Thus, as ifthough ahead war or elemental disasters await them ahead.

In the «Auchan» supermarket standing right next to my house on theeve of the New year were being sold various absolutely, in my view,useless goods: some kind of stuffed little bulls cows withinconceivable colorations, blue grandfather Frosts and yellowSnegurochkas [Russia’s equivalent of Santa Claus has a comely granddaughter, Snegurochka the snow-maiden–Trans.],cheap and shoddy tree ornaments…And all this, people not only took, butgrabbed. They’re going to give something to someone as a gift, and thissomething is going to lie around uselessly for years and years. A worldof unneeded things. Russians love to buy unneeded things. Houses arecrammed with them.

But people are being profligate just now because they haven’tperceived the crisis – only the first little warning bells have rung:someone’s been laid off, someone’s had his salary cut… But for now, allthis hasn’t yet acquired a mass character. The massness will come afterthe boozing, after the meeting of the «old» New year [January 13–Trans.], after January… But for now, the Russians were grabbing up expensive eaux de cologneand perfumes, gold adornments, complex household appliances… Looking atall this madness, it was hard to utter the word «crisis». What crisis,with such purchasing… nay, not power, but – aggression?

All this boom was actively heated up by television: advertisementwas offering with all its might to spend, to buy, once again to spend,once again to buy… To travel to Goa and the Maldives, to go to «hautecouture» restaurants, to pay a visit to an exhibition-sale of goods foroligarchs…

What has really and truly gotten cheaper? After all, there really isa crisis. They say that prostitutes have gotten cheaper. The realsector of the Russian economy, so to speak. Well, these have alwaysbeen practical and never broke away from the land, from terrestrialrealities.

…And also in our district to children -orphans this year they didn’tgive free tickets to new-year holidays around [what in the west areknown as Christmas] trees: these had always, year in and year out, beenconducted at the expense of the Moscow government. But after they hadtaken the Russian Grandfather Frost on a junket to Africa for Moscow’smoney (why in blazes, one asks!), money for child-orphans, apparently,didn’t remain. Or maybe they remembered about the crisis?

Upper image: New year in Moscow: the movie theater poster on theright advertises a film by the name of «Everything done honestly»(photo by Grigory Pasko)

Lower image: New year in Moscow: a festively decorated tree along Red Square (photo by Grigory Pasko)