An average of 19.2 million Russians – or 13.4% of the population – were living last year on less than 9,452 roubles ($139) a month, the minimum subsistence level determined by the Russian government.
What has happened to Vladimir Putin’s dream of Russian economic prosperity? Instead of a rich upsurge, Mother Russia is suffering in a mire of extreme poverty where children go hungry and entire families live well below any subsistence level.
“I can eat one loaf of bread per week. In our neighbourhood the cats and dogs have gone missing, because meat is such a rarity. We may even start eating ourselves, just like the peasants did under Stalin’s purges,” Anatoly Kuznetsov, 45, an unemployed doctor from Tomsk, revealed.
Economic sanctions hit hard under the Obama administration, and further conflict in Syria and the Ukraine have diverted vast amounts of funds to military operations, rather than feeding the starving population.
With little or no jobs for most people, educated people are now starving amongst the uneducated, such is the feeling of despair in the former Soviet country.
“In Soviet times, it was better because we queued for hours but there was usually some food guaranteed. Now, if you do not have the money, they don’t even look your way. You have to go hungry, your children starve, you are stuck in the hell that Putin has built for you. Yes, many love Putin, but all I see is hungry people who live in horrible grey blocks and have no hope,” Irina Mikhailov, 58, who works as a nurse at her local hospital in Norilsk.
Naturally, the propaganda which is devised for Western eyes only shows the rich parts of Russia, where wealth from criminal elements and Oligarchs reside.
With the upcoming World Cup in 2018, what sort of Russia will be viewed by the visiting masses from all over the world? They will most probably not see the real Russia, a crumbling wreck where many live and die in absolute poverty, forgotten by their government, instead only seeing a fake Russia of modernity and wealth.