13.09.2007
Battle March
Russia has passed the way from “the society of default -1998” to “the society of consumption -2007”. But will we reach new economic heights?.. The question remains an open one", as the Director General of the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Centre (VCIOM) Valery Fedorov states. 
August has traditionally been considered in Russia to be the month of crises and disturbances, however, this month is becoming increasingly calmer with every passing year. Today Russians do not expect disturbances but still recall those from the past with discontent, cautiously and even with aversion. However, the citizens, as always, hold the authorities responsible for all previous failures and flaws. 
Thus, more than half of respondents blame President Boris Yeltsin for the financial crisis of 1998. The oligarchs, the government and Sergei Kirienko personally, who used to be Prime Minister at the time, as well as the democrat-reformers are all mentioned among the guilty. Additionally, the opinion that our country is paying for the policy of the previous government and is undergoing the consequences of the default of 1998 until now is still common. However, the present authority will not let it happen again, as the respondents identify. 
The default will, undoubtedly, remain in our memory for a long time. But Russians today have other more urgent problems, i.e. consumer and credit fever. The number of those who plan to make use of a credit, has more than doubled during the year. For what purposes is a credit like that meant? 
The purchase of the audio-, video- and household equipment, a fashionable and expensive cell phone, an automobile, apartment, house or a section of land are mentioned most frequently. Credits are primarily taken by the young educated citizens with high financial standing. It is interesting that people with higher and post-secondary education use such bank services twice as frequently as their less educated compatriots do. 
However, the real index of the level of financial standing is not considered to be the share of citizens taking credits, but the proportion of expenditures given out on food from the family budget. And these are not decreasing in Russia. Only five percent of respondents spend less than a quarter of their family budget on food, each third respondent spends from a quarter to half of the family budget, whereas each sixth respondent gives out three fourths or more of his/her income for that purpose. It is no wonder that the majority of respondents consider an increase in prices on food products to be an acute problem for them. At the same time more than half of Russians noticed an increase in prices for vegetables and fruits - and this in the high summer season!
Whom do they blame for high inflation? There is no personified “enemy image” in the national economy. Which is quite different from, let us say, the social sphere (that refers to the minister-“allergen” Mikhail Zurabov), power engineering (where just as before “Chubays is guilty of everything ") and politics (Berezovsky is the traditional malicious source of all evil there). People most frequently associate an increase in prices for bread with poor weather conditions and increase in the cost of gasoline, which, in its turn, is considered to be the consequence of monopolism on the market.

Another social and economic problem of a much more fundamental character is the housing issue. It is common knowledge that the national project Affordable Housing has been summoned  to settle the problems arising. People generally believe in the good intentions which brought the state to the idea of its development. However, one fourth of respondents do not really await any positive changes resulting from the project, still more than one third of respondents indicate that they have already witnessed the real results of its realization. Indeed, even now young families can obtain subsidies from the state for the acquisition of their dwelling, for the first payment on the mortgage and other important benefits.
Certainly, our citizens’ average income level does not let them satisfy the consumer demands, which, in accordance with the economic theory and practice, constantly grow, just as they should. Nevertheless, Russia still has gone the enormously long way from the "society of default -1998" to the "society of consumption -2007". We have overcome the financial the precipice, and are now at an economic plateau. 
But shall we climb new heights, and if yes, when is it going to happen? And will we all reach them? This question remains an open one.
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