Russian President Vladimir Putin used to be a communist, and Russian news outlet ‘The Bell’ reports he has a natural ‘distrust’ of business, calling the profession ‘so-called business’ in a recent interview with Russian state news agency TASS.
- In the interview, the TASS journalist asked Putin if he sees entrepreneurs as “swindlers by definition”. Putin answered that “there are certain reasons for [thinking like] this, because all so-called business in the 2000s was tied to trade”. “So a trader is a swindler?” the journalist inquired. “Yes,” Putin replied.
- Russians think differently. A total of 80 percent of those polled by Levada Center believe small and medium-sized business is good for the country, and 59 percent feel the same way about big business. Both figures are at 17-year record highs. It is young people and wealthy Russians who have the most positive view of business.
- The main problems for business in Russia are high taxes, corruption and a lack of start-up capital. Pressure from law enforcement is also an issue: 50 percent of those polled believe interest from the authorities means an attempt to solicit a bribe or seize an asset.
- This is not the only contradiction between Putin’s view of the economy and that of ordinary people. In the same interview (Rus), Putin said 70 percent of Russians are middle class, which he defined as those earning over 17,000 rubles ($200) a month. This led to a wave of bewilderment on social media: even by Russian standards, 17,000 rubles is not a lot of money, wrote The Bell.
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