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One-Fifth Of Russians Live In Poverty, 36 Percent In 'Risk Zone,' Study Finds

A woman sells homemade canned food on the street in Kaliningrad.
A woman sells homemade canned food on the street in Kaliningrad.

More than one-fifth of the Russian population now lives in poverty, according to a new study by a research institute with ties to the Kremlin.

The November 21 report by the Russian Presidential Academy of the National Economy and Public Administration says 22 percent of Russians fall into the "poverty zone," meaning they are unable to buy anything beyond basic staples needed for subsistence.

The October study placed nearly 36 percent of Russians in the "consumer risk zone," with incomes that allow them to buy decent food and clothes but little or no disposable income, making the purchase of "items for longer usage...extremely difficult."

For people in this group, the prospects for improvement in their financial status any time soon are dim, while 14 percent fall into a "zone of possible changes" and may see their wealth increase.

The other 28 percent of the population are in what the research defines as the "comfort zone."

These people can provide themselves with decent food, clothes, and items for longer usage, and are unlikely to see their financial situation worsen substantially in the future.

President Vladimir Putin has set an ambitious target of cutting Russia's poverty rate in half by 2024, the last year of the term he began in May 2018.

Putin presided over strong, oil-fueled economic growth in his first two terms, in 2000-08, but the economy is struggling now and many Russians are angry over the government's plan to raise the retirement age.

The criteria used for the report by the academy, which was founded by presidential decree in 2010, appear to differ from those used by the government to determine the poverty rate.

According to the World Bank and the Russian Federal State Statistics Service, the poverty rate in 2017 was 13.2 percent.

That figure is based on the Statistics Service data indicating that 19.3 million residents of Russia and the Russian-controlled Crimea region were below the average subsistence level of 9,786 rubles ($148 at today's exchange rate).

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