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Russian Economic & Social Policies Under Vladimir Putin

Instructor: Michael Gott

Mike is a veteran of the New Hampshire public school system and has worked in grades 1-12. His role has varied from primary instructor to special needs support.

This lesson will cover the basic social and economic policies that have been put in place in Russia under President Vladimir Putin. We'll cover the 2007 global financial crisis, treatment of opposition, and controls on freedom of speech and the internet.

Rise to Power

Rising in political power through both the Soviet Union and Russia, Vladimir Putin has come a long way since his early days with the KGB. His rise to the head of the Russian state was solidified after joining the administration of Boris Yeltsin in 1998, and taking his place as president a year later.

Putin served as president through 2008, stepping down to meet with term limit statutes. In 2012 Putin would be elected as President again using a technicality to run. Let's take a look at his economic and social policies.

Vladimir Putin
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Economic Policies of Putin

After taking office in 1999, Russia was in the midst of market reforms and a year old financial crisis. Putin's response was two fold to Russia's economic woes.

  1. He drastically cut tax rates for most Russian businesses, in an attempt to stimulate growth.
  2. He had the government take control of previously private businesses such as the oil industry.

When the price of oil began to rise the Russian government soon found itself with much better financing. Between Putin taking office in 1999 and 2006 government income doubled.

Despite massive growth, Russia could not escape the 2007 global financial crisis. This crisis was triggered by mortgage-backed assets rife with debt being sold to investors and was the most severe world wide economic issue since the Great Depression.

No country was immune to the effects of the financial meltdown as stocks and investment firms plunged in value. Putin failed to fully diversify Russia's economy leaving it easy to knock off track. The Russian economy was too dependent on oil revenues from abroad, and after oil prices dropped, Russia was soon facing international sanctions for the annexation (occupy and take territory from another group) in the Ukraine province of Crimea.

These factors created long term stagnation in the Russia Economy. In desperate need of funding after 2014, the Russian government encouraged citizens to buy Russian bonds to invest in their country. The bond was looked at skeptically by most Russians and the international community. In 2014 the Russian economy grew by an incredibly weak .6%. A far cry from the 7% growth Russia experienced during Putin's first term.

Dealing With Opposition

Russia under President Putin is not a place that welcomes dissent or free speech. Opposition was growing in the winter of 2011 into 2012. This came to a head on May 6th 2012 in the form of the Bolotnaya Square protests.

In what became known as the White Ribbon movement, protesters demanded greater political freedoms for Russians. Only a few thousand protesters arrived at Bolotnaya Square in May, which demonstrated the weakness and limited political spectrum of their movement. One theory for why the movement failed to collect greater support was their lack of positive statements. They were opposed to many things, but never clearly articulated what they stood for.

Putin and the Russian government's response to the protesters was fierce. Alexei Navalny and 27 protesters faced charges and were submitted to show trials. All 28 protesters were found guilty and Putin later increased fines and prison sentences for unsanctioned protests against the government.

The last of the opposition to Putin's power ended with the assassination of former deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov. Boris Nemtsov was shot and killed, and the suspected perpetrators were given medals by Putin less than a year later. These decorations were said to be unrelated, but led many to be suspicious.

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