Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Is the Russian Government about to Provoke Its Own Vagrants Protests?

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 7 – Russian government officials are actively considering measures to collect taxes on those working in “gray” zones, a measure that would likely resemble the one in Belarus which has sparked massive protests there and that could be expected to do something similar across the Russian Federation.

            Discussions about such measures were reported in yesterday’s Parlamentskaya gazeta (pnp.ru/social/2017/03/06/nerabotayushhikh-rossiyan-uchtyot-edinaya-sistema.html).  Its backers in the government and the parliament say this measure will force everyone to pay his or her way; opponents argue it will provoke an explosion (svpressa.ru/economy/article/167677/).

                Most experts with whom Sergey Aksyonov of Svobodnaya presssa spoke oppose the measure not only because it is unlikely to bring in the amount of revenue the government estimates it could but also because it would almost certainly lead to protests and even risings in Russian cities like those in Belarus. 

            Nikolay Kolomeytsev, the KPRF first deputy chairman of the Duma’s labor and social policy committee, spoke for many when he said that such a move was “a path to nowhere or even a path to revolution.”  Perhaps the report is nothing more than a testing of the waters, but it is an indication of how desperate Moscow now is to find funds, especially from the least well-defended portions of the population.

            And to add insult to injury, this report surfaced on the same day that Russian government experts projected that income inequality in Russia, already among the highest in the world, is set to increase further in the coming months (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=58BD58FC670CB).

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