It must be said that this request for changes has become much more acute in Russian society in the run-up to Putin's Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly, because many people expect him to make drastic changes and to enact a policy more loyal to the needs of rank-and-file Russians.
Russia is on the verge of a grave crisis. Therefore, the future of the country as a whole depends not just on President Vladimir Putin’s address to the Federal Assembly scheduled on January 15. This opinion was voiced by Oleg Shein, a member of A Just Russia parliamentary faction, at the first plenary session of the State Duma, which began a new session on January, 14. At the same time, the deputy said that many people expect Putin's address to contain realistic proposals aimed at overcoming the demographic disaster, positive shifts in the pension system and poverty reduction. It should be noted that this call for changes has become much more acute in Russian society in the run-up to Putin's Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly, as many expect him to make drastic changes and to adopt a more loyal socio-economic state policy. Therefore, it is no surprise that the State Duma calls on Putin to make changes of this kind because it is well-known that no serious process can take place in Russia without the head of state. In his speech Shein also made a reminder about the Strategy 2020 program. According to him, it is on everyone's lips. "In accordance with this program, as of January 1 this year the country is already living in full prosperity. As the official publication of the Cabinet of Ministers Rossiyskaya Gazeta wrote at the time of its adoption, by that date the country would achieve such parameters as a salary of $2,700, that is, about 170,000 rubles at the current rate. And the average pension was to be set at three minimum subsistence levels -- about 30,000 rubles per month. Finally, it was promised that the percent of the middle class would be 50%, which even Western European countries cannot boast of," said Shein. At the same time, the he complained that so far we have to state the opposite: the salary in the country is only about 40,000 rubles, while the middle class makes up only 7 percent of the population, while pensions have almost been gradually abolished in Russia. In this regard, Oleg Shein is confident that it wasn't the sanctions of Western countries that put the country in so distressful a situation -- since even Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, during his speech in parliament gave the assurances that Russia would be able to turn these sanctions into an advantage. "And we continue to hear the mantra suggesting that in order to increase people's incomes, we need to develop the economy. However, what is happening is exactly just the opposite, as Russian billionaires have repeatedly mentioned. For example, Azar Agalarov, the owner of Crocus Group, said recently that the growth of people’s welfare may be the only source of economic development in the country," added Shein. He also drew the attention of his colleagues in the lower house to the fact that in recent years, Russia has been exporting timber, rolled metal products and grain, that is, its natural resources. As for Russia's finished products and goods, they can successfully compete on the domestic market only. "And here, in the domestic market, people simply do not have money. At the end of the year, the average amount of loans per family reached almost a quarter of a million rubles while the average bank deposit is about 35,000 rubles. That is, the population has no financial cushion at all," Oleg Shein said. He noted along with it that Russian families have to spend a quarter of their income on paying back their loans, and that is why refinancing is almost impossible. "This means that Russia is on the verge of a serious socio-economic crisis," Shein said. Simultaneously, he admitted that the Russian government occasionally has some hopeful glints. As an example, he cited a recent proposal by Dmitry Oreshkin, the Economic Development Minister, to cancel personal income tax for those individuals whose income doesn't reach the minimum subsistence level. "We expect this idea to be repeated in the President's Address to the Federal Assembly tomorrow," he said. More than that, according to Oleg Shein, the demographic catastrophe that everyone around is trying to prevent, in fact, has already occurred. In 2019, the population of the Russian Federation officially decreased by 320,000 people. According to the deputy, the process of “depopulation” has been registered in 69 regions of the country and it is going on. "You can blame the aftermaths of World War II and the unsuccessful reforms of the 1990s, but when the Strategy 2020 was devised, everyone knew about Boris Yeltsin's reforms and the war. But the same strategy said that Russia's population would grow," said Shein. "In general, anticipating tomorrow's Address of the Russian president to the Federal Assembly, I would like to say that the Russians are already tired of working for the oligarchy for free. Moreover, I assume, people have no illusions about the authorities and everyone who is present in in this hall. Russia needs a total social left about-face, because the economy of such a big and rich country with large resources and talented people should work for the man in the street," said Shein in conclusion.