What is Putin’s most worried about now?His own citizen

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On December 24, 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with workers after taking a train at the Taman Railway Station near Anapa, Russia, across the bridge connecting Russia and the Crimea Peninsula.

Mikhail Svetlov | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin told CNBC on Wednesday that improving the living standards of Russian citizens is his current concern. He has a rare insight into the imperative of one of the most powerful leaders in the world.

“Our main problem, our main problem and goal is to increase the income of our citizens,” Putin told CNBC’s Hadley Gambling on Wednesday. His answer was made after being asked what is his biggest concern today, whether it is inflation, stagflation, the gas crisis in Europe or the tension in the South China Sea.

“This is our main challenge… We need to ensure economic growth and improve its quality. This is our long-term task,” he said.

Putin added that the government “will improve the social situation to increase the income of our citizens, and deal with the second very important task is the demographic situation. It involves many social issues, including health care, education, and support for children who suffer from it.”

“So these two very important questions, [the] The population problem, increasing the income of our citizens and improving their quality of life…should be resolved on the basis of economic growth. This is what we are going to do in the near future,” he said.

On October 13, 2021, Russian President Vladimir Putin attended the plenary meeting of the Russian Energy Week International Forum in Moscow, Russia.

Sergei Guniev | Sputnik | Reuters

When he made the above remarks, Russia’s GDP per capita, as a core indicator of economic performance, is usually used as a broad measure of average living standards or economic well-being, but it is still lower than its counterparts in the OECD and the EU.

Chris Weafer, chief executive of Macro-Advisory, a Moscow-based strategic consulting company, told CNBC in September that “the real problem that scares the Kremlin is the changing demographics.” More and more Russians are following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Born and demand a better standard of living.

“[They] You want to improve your lifestyle, gain social support, and create a better future for yourself and your family,” Weaver said. “The great challenge facing President Putin and the so-called Russian’elite’ will be how to meet these expectations while maintaining power. . The failure of the former will cause more serious damage to the latter during the next presidential term-no matter who the president is. “

Prosperity under Putin

During his 20 years in power, Putin has undoubtedly witnessed a period of growth in the Russian economy. Similarly, in terms of politics, Russia remains firmly on the global geopolitical arena.

However, like any economy, Russia is not immune to global and domestic events Under and outside Russian control This has overturned its growth trajectory and brought economic difficulties to its citizens.

This was most obvious in 2014, when global oil prices fell, coupled with Russia’s decision to annex Crimea from neighboring Ukraine, which put tremendous pressure on the economy and society. This is due to the reduction in government revenue from Russian oil exports and the country’s new international sanctions for seizing Crimea’s land. The sharp depreciation of the ruble led to rampant inflation and soaring prices of basic products, which seriously affected Russian consumers.

Recently, the Covid-19 pandemic has also dealt a heavy blow to the Russian economy, although it has performed better than some advanced economies. The World Bank pointed out that Russia’s gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 3% in 2020, while the global average contraction rate was 3.8%, compared to 5.4% in advanced economies.

“Several factors have helped Russia to perform relatively well: In recent years, Russia has adopted major macro-fiscal stabilization measures that have led to an improvement in its fiscal position. Large-scale cleaning up of the banking industry, strengthening of supervision, and strengthening of capital and liquidity buffers,” The bank said in a report in May.

read more: 5 charts showing the ups and downs of the Russian economy under Putin

Despite this, the pandemic is still a serious public health crisis in the country, with a high number of cases and a low vaccination rate; on Wednesday, Russia reported the highest number of deaths in a single day since the pandemic began, breaking the record on Tuesday.

People walk across the Red Square on a sunny autumn day in Moscow on October 9, 2021.

Dimitar Dilkov | AFP | Getty Images

World Bank economists predicted last week that Russia’s GDP will grow by 4.3% in 2021, then fall back to 2.8% in 2022, and then to 1.8% in 2023 as the output gap shrinks. The World Bank pointed out that “the continued recovery of the global economy, relatively high oil prices, and the improvement of the new crown epidemic situation are expected to help consolidate the initial recovery of domestic demand.”

Does the public want Putin?

President Putin refused to be asked whether he would run for office in 2024, despite the controversial changes in Russia’s constitution in 2020 to allow him to do so.

If he does run for re-election (taking into account the oppression of opposition parties and politicians, such as Alexei Navalny, who has been jailed), Putin, now 69, may be in power before 2036.

When asked if there is a succession plan on Wednesday, Putin said: “I don’t want to answer questions like this. This is my traditional response. We will wait until the upcoming elections.”

“The dialogue in this area is to stabilize the situation. The situation must be stable and secure so that the power structure and the world structure operate safely and responsibly,” he said.

On March 18, 2014, pro-Kremlin activists held a rally on Red Square in Moscow to celebrate the annexation of Crimea.

Dmitry Serebryakov | AFP | Getty Images

According to opinion polls conducted by the independent Levada Center, geopolitical events at home and abroad have caused Putin’s approval rating to fluctuate greatly since 1999.

For example, when Russia annexed Crimea, Putin’s approval rating soared from 61% to 85%, but since then his approval rating has steadily dropped to its current level, which was 64% in September.

Whether the Russians believe that Putin can solve the country’s internal problems or whether they should continue to be in power after 2024 is another matter.

Levada’s latest survey of 1,634 adults in late September showed that 47% of Russians want Putin to remain president after 2024, while 42% do not want that-since 2013 The highest ratio.

Putin’s focus on economic growth and its trickle-down effect on ordinary Russians is just one of the topics he discussed with CNBC at Russia Energy Week on Wednesday. The president also commented on a variety of pressing issues, from the gas crisis in Europe to the prospects for oil prices, and the growing tension between Russia’s ally China (President Xi Jinping once said Putin was his best friend) and Taiwan.

Putin also discussed a series of energy issues in a panel with BP CEO Bernard Looney, TotalEnergies CEO Patrick Pouyanne, Exxon Mobil CEO Darren Woods and Daimler CEO Ola Kallenius.

read more: Putin called “outright nonsense” Russia is using natural gas as a geopolitical weapon, ready to help Europe

Given Russia’s status as a global oil and gas exporter, Russia is an influential force in Europe and Asia, although Putin has expressed the need to diversify the Russian economy in recent years and get rid of its dependence on energy exports. This goal Oil prices plummeted in 2014.

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