Times change, but there are things that will always remain the same – one of such things is the always impoverished and ruined Russia and its people. I cannot remember a time when regular people in Russia were truly free, when they could exercise their freedom of speech and when were able to live decent lives. Regardless of the person at the helm of Russia, the Russian people have always been fooled, robbed and humiliated, and there’s no difference whether it was the Tatar khans, tzars, Lenin’s team or now Putin’s gang.
Before any commentators say that I’m being a Russophobe and inciting hatred, I would want to explain to the fans of the USSR and Putin’s regime that Latvians have never been and never could have been Russophobes. The only thing Latvians have always wanted is for the Russians tzars, the Communist Party and Putin’s oligarchs to leave us alone. There isn’t a place where Russians were more welcomed than in Latvia, and I as a Latvian feel truly sorry for all of the living beings that are tortured by the hands of Russian politicians.
Returning to the fact that yet another Russia has been ruined by the old chekists and communists, let’s begin with the budget of Russia which since the “retrieval” of Crimea and the “acquiring” of sanctions is in very poor shape. Russia catastrophically lacks money, and that is exactly why Putin signed a law on raising income tax for those earning more than roughly 55,000 euros annually.
The Kremlin’s propaganda media outlets are outright lying by saying that the money will be used to treat severely ill children. Has the Kremlin finally found its conscience? No, of course, I’m being ironic – this summer, the Russian minister of finances feverishly stated that in August the budget deficit rose by 85%. It’s already December, so I seriously doubt that the situation has improved.
At a time when resources are already scarce, the Covid-19 pandemic isn’t being kind to Russia and this exacerbates the financial crisis. If this wasn’t enough, Putin was forced to engage in a “peace” mission in Nagorno-Karabakh, but it is now being reported that it’s too early to speak of peace and that the war will continue. And war isn’t a cheap luxury. Some might think that Russia is a rich country with plenty of oil and gas, but the value of Russian oil is ridiculously low and there is less and less gas flowing through Gazprom pipelines.
Putin now understands how Hitler felt few days prior to the end of World War II. There is an increasing amount of information pointing to Putin’s bad health, specifically that he has Parkinson’s disease. In the current situation, it’s clear that Putin is under a lot of stress, and it also seems that his right hand is no longer functioning. You reap what you sow, right? Russia’s economy is barely alive, the sanctions have taken their toll and there are upcoming State Duma elections in 2021 – maybe this time something will finally change.
The protests in Khabarovsk, just like in Belarus, persist but the Kremlin’s media spitefully continue downplaying them. The number of clearly dissatisfied people in Russia keeps growing by the day, and now the Russian middle-class, which have a higher tax imposed against them, also have a reason to take to the streets.
Russia’s 2021 budget has been drawn up considering that oil prices will range between 80 and 85 dollars a barrel. Can any of the all-knowing commentators tell me the current price of Russian Urals oil? I will save you time – its price is half of the expected, and if we look at how the price changed over the course of the last year we’re forced to agree with the words of Putin’s lackey Dmitry Medvedev: “There’s no money, but you stay strong!”
The Russian people are currently experiencing yet another stage of agony of their country. It’s difficult to tell what will follow, but historically there have been few cases when such issues could be resolved peacefully and without much blood. For instance, Moscow’s budget deficit for 2021 is projected at 510 billion rubles (approx. 5.6 billion euros), which is the amount of money Putin’s clique will need to survive for a couple of months. It would make sense if protests would now erupt in Russia’s regions, because the Kremlin’s Ministry of Finance has reported that the income of all federal subjects is rapidly decreasing, meaning that they will have to borrow money. But will there be anyone willing to lend this money?
Half of Russia’s federal subjects will conclude 2020 with a budget deficit, which is a signal that there’s already a serious lack of funds. It is reported that the total budget deficit of Russia’s subjects has reached the 30% mark. The pandemic and sanctions have done their job of driving nails in the coffin of Putin’s regime, but it’s unlikely that there’ll be a funeral and flowers because there’s no money for that. Russia’s so-called donor regions are no longer able to sustain, for instance, the underdeveloped Dagestan, Yakutia and Kamchatka. These regions are also forced to pay for the regime’s international orphans – Crimea, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and these could now be joined by Armenia along with Nagorno-Karabakh.
It seems that the vassal states acquired by Russia’s occupation and divide-and-conquer tactics will now want to tear their umbilical cord with Moscow. The Kremlin will, as always, resist and this could lead to blood being spilled.
Everything suggests that Putin’s Russia will collapse from within, we must simply be patient. The only thing left to do is to take off our hats to the Russian people and their endurance.
*Augusts Augustiņš, Reserve Sergeant of the Latvian National Guard