Improving Russian citizens’ living standards is President Vladimir Putin’s biggest concern right now, on Wednesday, offering a rare insight into the preoccupations of one of the world’s most powerful leaders.
“Our main problem, our main issue and goal is to increase the revenues of our citizens,” Putin told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble on Wednesday. His answer came after being asked what his greatest concern was today, be it inflation, stagflation or the gas crisis in Europe or tension in the South China Sea.
“This is our main challenge … we need to ensure economic growth and to increase its quality. These are our long-term tasks,” he said.
Putin added that the government was “going to improve the social situation to increase the revenues of our citizens and to deal with the second very important task is the demographic situation. And it entails a lot of social issues, healthcare, education, supporting families with children.”
“So these two very important issues, [the] demographic one and increasing the revenue of our citizens and improving their quality of life … should be solved on the basis of economic growth. That’s what we are going to do in the near future,” he said.
His comments come as Russia’s GDP per capita, a core indicator of economic performance and commonly used as a broad measure of average living standards or economic wellbeing, remains below its peers in the OECD and EU.
Made with Flourish
Chris Weafer, chief executive officer of Moscow-based strategy consultancy Macro-Advisory, told CNBC in September that “the real issue which scares the Kremlin is the changing demographics,” with an increasing number of Russians born after the Soviet Union ended and demanding a better standard of life.
″[They] want improved lifestyle, incomes social supports and a better future for themselves and their families,” Weafer said. “The big challenge for President Putin and the so-called Russian ‘elites’ will be how to satisfy those expectations while keeping power. Failure in the former will more severely undermine to latter in the next presidential term – no matter who that president may be.”
Prosperity under Putin
During his two decades in power, Putin has undoubtedly overseen a period of growth in the Russian economy. Likewise, on the political front, Russia still stands firmly on the global geopolitical stage.
Like any economy, however, Russia has not been immune to global and domestic events — both under and out of Russia’s control — that have unseated its growth trajectory and caused financial hardship to its citizens.