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Putin Vows To Raise Russian Minimum Wage On May 1

Russian President Vladimir Putin

President Vladimir Putin says the minimum wage in Russia will be raised on May 1, as he steps up his campaign for the March presidential election.

Putin, speaking on January 10 to workers at a factory in the city of Tver, said the change to the minimum wage would affect "about 4 million people." The hike had previously been expected to come later in the year.

The Russian president said a worker needs to make at least the subsistence level "to have a chance to live on this wage, and if that's not the case, it is not normal."

Officials said the Labor Ministry would soon begin to prepare draft legislation to lift the minimum wage.

The minimum wage in Russia is 9,489 rubles a month ($166) and the subsistence level is 11,163 rubles ($196).

Official figures show that more than 20.3 million Russians are living under the poverty line.

Putin announced his decision to run for a fourth term on December 6. His high approval ratings and control over the levers of power make his victory a foregone conclusion in Russia, where critics say election campaigns and results are manipulated by the authorities.

Analysts say Putin is eager to score a strong win with high turnout in the March 18 election to make his mandate as strong as possible in what could be his final term, as the constitution bars presidents from serving more than two consecutive terms.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, and Interfax