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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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HomeDemocracy in DecayWhy so many Russians voted for Putin

Why so many Russians voted for Putin

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IN THE recent Russian elections Vladimir Putin got 87 per cent of the vote on a 77.44 per cent per cent turnout (UK general elections since 2001 have averaged 64 per cent). 

The main opposition in Russia to Putin are the communists, who got 4.31 per cent of the vote – about the same level achieved in opinion polls by the late Western-sponsored Alexei Navalny. Although electorally weak, the communists are organisationally strong with an inherited cross-national party infrastructure. 

Putin is a Christian (his late mother was devoted to the Church) and has the fervent support of Russian Orthodoxy. He has on many occasions made clear his opposition to communism, and said it would be ‘brainless’ to recreate the old Soviet Union. On the centenary of Solzhenitsyn’s birth Putin unveiled a statue to him and on October 30 2017 he attended the unveiling of the ‘Wall of Grief’, a monument erected in Moscow to the victims of communist repression.

The full results of the Russian Presidential election were:

Vladimir Putin, Independent, 87.28 per cent

Nikolay Kharitonov, Communist Party of Russian Federation, 4.31 per cent

Vladislav Davankov, New People, 3.85 per cent

Leonid Slutsky, Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, 3.20 per cent

The 87 per cent support for Putin was fully in line with the polling of the Levada Center, a Russian independent polling organisation founded in 1987 which was labelled a foreign agent under the 2012 Russian Foreign Agent law but managed to survive without being seen as a tool of government.

Vladimir Putin came to power in 2000 after the most disastrous years under Boris Yeltsin when economic collapse, social degradation and political powerlessness (with Western officials virtually dictating policies and Western corporations moving in) dominated Russia.

The turnaround since the 1990s has been extraordinary, not least considering the 15,000 sanctions imposed on Russia by Nato and the EU and the costs of fighting a war in Ukraine. Today the Russian economy is growing at a rate half as much again as the US and about 20 times the rate of the EU.

The cost of living for the average Russian is far lower than in the West. A German analyst worked out the wage-to-costs ratio for a typical restaurant worker. In Russia he would earn post tax 783 euros a month, and in that restaurant a full meal would cost 3.5 euros. His pay would therefore cover 223 meals. In Germany the post tax salary would be 1,340 euros and a full meal would cost 8.5 euros so the worker could buy only 157 meals – 30 per cent worse than the Russian. The income tax for this worker would be 13 per cent in Russia and 25 per cent in Germany.

It’s a simple example but one which shows how important purchasing power parity is when assessing a country’s real GDP and how Russia can for example produce far cheaper war materials than the West. In Ukraine some Russian missiles costing a few thousands are confronted by US Patriot missiles costing several millions.

Russian income taxes are very low: 13 per cent rising to 15 per cent with property taxes at between 0.1 and 2 per cent of property value. Vladimir Putin has just announced that all soldiers fighting in Ukraine will be relieved of property taxes. The war economy since the start of the Russian intervention in Ukraine has meant a big boost for industrial wages. For instance a welder in a manufacturing plant who made 25,000 rubles (£213) before the conflict has seen his wage quadrupled to 100,000 rubles (£853) and in the former territories of Ukraine to 300,000 rubles (£2,561). For the details of Putin’s remarkable economic record see below. 

SOCIAL LEGISLATION

The Financial Times noted that Russia saw a remarkable 3.6 per cent economic growth in 2023, positioning itself as the foremost economy in Europe and the fifth globally, with Russians experiencing a 5.4 per cent increase in real disposable income, and unemployment at a record low. 

Even with the blatant theft by Nato/EU of some $300billion of Russian foreign exchange reserves, the country has moved up to 6th place in the global table with reserves of $442billion.

Despite EU and US sanctions, they still buy hundreds of millions of dollars worth of oil, gas, LNG and uranium from Russia, boosting Russian government revenues. Exports to China have reached record levels. Vladimir Putin has used these revenues not just to create a war production economy but to boost social provision. Some examples:

·         Single parents with children under the age of 16 cannot be dismissed;

·         From July, those who have been married for 20 years are entitled to a lump sum of 20,000 rubles. There are incremental payments every five years of 25,000 rubles on the 25th anniversary and so on up to 70,000 on the 70th anniversary. The amounts are indexed for inflation;

·         Maternity capital for the first child of a marriage is 630,967.72 rubles, for the second child 833,800.37 rubles;

·         Any child injured by the war in Ukraine and is resident in the territory of the Russian Federation (includes Crimea, Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporozhia) is entitled to 100,000 rubles compensation;

·         A State subsidy for the down payment on a mortgage for married buyers under the age of 27 subsidising the mortgage interest rate after the birth of the first and second child to 4 per cent and 2 per cent per annum respectively;

·         When the third child is born, it is proposed to fully write off the mortgage principal debt.

The Russian people know that their President opposes mass immigration, supranational powers like the EU and the West’s ‘new world order’, is supportive of his country’s sovereignty, domestic industry and jobs, the traditional family and marriage, protecting children from sexual abuse, the Christian religion (building hundreds of churches), low taxes, generous social support and a ‘multi-polar’ world order.

They agree with him and have voted accordingly in a show of support which Western leaders can only dream of. That support will have increased after the obscene massacre at the Crocus City Hall in the suburbs of Moscow.

This article appeared in Freenations on March 24, 2024, and is republished by kind permission. 

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Rodney Atkinson
Rodney Atkinson
Rodney Atkinson is an entrepreneur and political economist who is the author of some 500 articles and policy papers. His Freenations website is 23 years old. Rodney Atkinson's books are available on Amazon .

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