Putin wants to shine a light on economic issues ahead of Russian elections — and hit an own goal

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Putin wants to stay in office. Experts say this could have disastrous consequences for the Russian economy. Because the president is facing a huge pile of broken pieces.

MOSCOW – The economy will play a big role in the Russian election from March 15 to 17. “For most Russians who want to ignore the war, the economy is actually the biggest issue,” Janis Kluge, an expert on the Russian economy at the German Institute for International Politics and Security, said recently. Euronews. That is why Vladimir Putin is trying to present the economic situation as stable and secure just before the presidential election. But he is deceiving himself.

Ahead of Russian elections: Putin wants to shine on economic issues

Already during the State of the Union address, Putin talked about the economic situation in the context of the election. In his speech, the Russian president pledged social benefits for the next six years, primarily aimed at supporting large families in precarious situations. He promised higher tax payments for children and regional social programs, supported by the federal budget, as measures to support families.

Economy also plays an important role in presidential elections in Russia. Putin therefore wants to score points on economic issues. © Kremlin Pool/Imago

The minimum wage should rise from 19,000 rubles (190 euros) per month to 35,000 rubles (350 euros) by 2030. Opposite fr.de One expert had already expressed skepticism about Putin's promises. Putin's primary concern is to show an understanding of the concerns of “ordinary” Russians.

Putin spreads optimism about Russia's economy – ahead of presidential election

According to Kluge, inflation is very important to the Russian people. However, inflation is not new. Although the central bank is trying to keep inflation under four percent this year, it is currently far from that. Russia is currently struggling with inflation at 7.4 percent. (As of February 2024).

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Nevertheless, Putin prefers to cling to the idea that Western sanctions have little impact on the Russian economy and that the economy is recovering despite the sanctions. The Russian Statistics Office released positive figures in mid-February, which pegged GDP growth at 3.6 percent in 2023. But the president must be clear about the consequences of sanctions.

Election in Russia: Can the economy give Putin a long run?

If Putin stays in office for another six years, he will face serious long-term consequences of the sanctions. Companies are facing labor shortages. Loud Euronews Hundreds of thousands of men fled the country after fighting broke out in Ukraine to avoid conscription. Hundreds of thousands more signed military contracts.

A slowdown in the oil and gas business would be particularly worrisome as the West looks to put more pressure on Putin's oil and gas business. In the latest round of sanctions, the US has blacklisted Putin's ailing ghost fleets and wants to take action against third countries that violate Russia's sanctions. This means that India can take back Russia in the oil business, among others.

Additionally, since the start of the war in Ukraine, Putin has transformed the economy into a “war economy.” Economists see this as the main reason for the strong growth: massive Russian military spending and high payments to volunteer soldiers are fueling the economy. However, one might think that the signs of an “overheated” Russian economy dampen confidence in the significantly positive state of the economy.

Despite the economic situation, Russia is optimistic ahead of the 2024 elections

However, Russia is apparently optimistic. Economics professor Natalya Zubarevich allayed fears of a “rapid collapse”: “It certainly won't happen.” Increased food prices are also unsustainable for some. The high prices “definitely worry me – like every consumer, I look at them,” he was quoted as saying. Euronews Fedotov, a Russian passerby working in education. “It has to do with the times we live in and they will pass.”

For Putin, a positive view of Russia's economic situation is likely to play into his favor if he runs for president again. Economic stability is “a signal to the elites that Putin can still mobilize the masses,” Kluge said. However, “it must be real and a manipulated number.” (Gods)

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