Middle Class Will Be Majority in Russia

By the year 2020, most Russians will be middle-class, own a car and live longer -- if the economy is successfully diversified away from natural resources, the Economic Development and Trade Ministry said.

Average salaries in the country could increase by as much as 2 1/2 times to $1,000 per month -- the current average in the Czech Republic, or half that in Britain – by 2020, while annual per capita income could reach $30,000, the ministry said in a report.

The report, carried in Vedomosti on Tuesday, was prepared after the government set 2020 as the target date to double the country's $1 trillion-per-year economy.

The ministry predicts that incomes will increase by 80 percent to 140 percent, depending on the success of the government's plans to diversify the economy into high-tech industries.

By 2020, more than 50 percent of Russians will earn the equivalent of $1,100 to $1,400 per month, according to the forecast, while the figure for those living below official poverty levels will fall from 16 percent to 6 percent.

Average salaries are now just under $400 per month, according to official statistics.

Pensions will grow fourfold and one in four Russians will be able to afford to travel abroad, compared with one in 20 now.

Among other optimistic forecasts, 60 percent Russians will be able to buy a car, compared with 11 percent now.

Life expectancy will also increase to 70 years, compared with 65.3 years now, while more than 50 percent of Russians will receive higher education.

While the ministry predicts healthy annual GDP growth of 6.6 percent over the 12-year period, it also sees fewer Russians around to enjoy it, however, as the population shrinks and ages. By 2020, the country's working population will fall by 13 million, from 90 million to 77 million, while the overall population will fall as much as 4 million, from 142 million to 138 million, the forecast said.

42 Held Following Street Clashes

MOSCOW — Dozens of ultranationalists armed with metal poles and broken bottles attacked people from the Caucasus and Central Asia at two squares near the Kremlin and a third location Friday night, raising fears of an escalation in ethnic violence.

One ethnic Armenian was hospitalized with stab wounds and 42 people were detained in the clashes, city police said.

The attackers consisted of about 50 members of ultranationalist groups, including the Movement Against Illegal Immigration, which sought to carry out a “provocation against the population of Moscow,” police said in a statement, Newsru.com reported.

Alexander Belov, the movement’s leader, called the accusation “some kind of stupidity” Sunday and said he had given police his own version of events when summoned to a police station Saturday.

Arrests were made on Manezh Square and Slavyanskaya Ploshchad, both near the Kremlin, and outside the Fili metro station in western Moscow.

Police arrested a Russian citizen identified as I. Sergeyev, born in 1988, on suspicion of assaulting a D. Aganesyan, born in 1990. The police statement gave no other names or details about the detainees. It was unclear Sunday whether they remained in custody and whether they would face charges.

Police said both ultranationalists and immigrants had broken the law on Friday night.

They also appealed to leaders of political parties and movements not to “provoke their supporters nor entice youths and minors into committing illegal acts, particularly for ethnic reasons.”

The Movement Against Illegal Immigration posted footage of the clashes on its web site. Young men carrying broken bottles and metal poles were seen clashing on what the web site said was Slavyanskaya Ploshchad.

In other footage, people chanted “Russia for Russians!” and “Kondopoga!” in reference to ethnic violence in the northwestern town late last summer that followed the killing of two local residents during a brawl with Chechens in a restaurant. Locals took to the streets, burning down the restaurant and targeting other establishments owned by people from the Caucasus.

Kondopoga has become something of a cause celebre both for ultranationalists, who claim it serves as a warning to those who tolerate the integration of different ethnicities, and for human rights groups, which call the incident a prime example of the propagation of racism.

Earlier this month, hundreds of people staged a protest in the southern city of Stavropol after two Russian students and an ethnic Chechen were killed in separate incidents there. Protesters called for the banishment of people from the Caucasus from the city.

The Movement Against Illegal Immigration participated in the protests in Stavropol and Kondopoga.

While tensions have simmered in Moscow, with the occasional fight and anti-immigration rally, larger attacks such as Friday’s have been few and far between. Political analysts have speculated that some Kremlin officials are stoking ethnic tensions ahead of national elections to win votes from people worried about an ultranationalist threat.

Belov said Friday’s violence, which began at around 8 p.m. on Slavyanskaya Ploshchad, was provoked by people from the Caucasus.

“We were peacefully guarding Moscow from gay prostitutes when groups of people from the Caucasus approached and provoked a reaction,” he said.

The square is known as a cruising area for homosexuals.

Belov said his group employs people who are always on hand during such events to document — this time with the help of video cameras — what goes on.

Alexander Brod, director of the Moscow Bureau of Human Rights, said quite the opposite was the case. “The work of Belov’s organization is to provoke such fights and strengthen the nationalist mood in the country,” Brod said.

“His organization is gaining momentum, and it is a real threat. Belov travels the country and provokes these fights, this violence, and law enforcement agencies don’t touch him,” Brod said.

“Unfortunately, with the elections coming, these attacks will continue,” Brod said, adding that the Movement Against Illegal Immigration has close ties to Dmitry Rogozin’s Great Russia, a party created in April to capture the nationalist vote.

“One of Russia’s most serious illnesses is xenophobia,” Brod said.

Rights groups lament the apparent reluctance of authorities to act against race-related crimes.

They complain that prosecutors prefer to hit apparent participants with minor public disorder or hooliganism charges.

Since the start of this year, at least 32 people have died in racist attacks across the country, and 245 others have been targeted by ultranationalists, human rights activists say.

Mayor Yury Luzhkov condemned the most recent violence.

“Any display of chauvinism, xenophobia or nationalism will be harshly put down in our capital, on the basis of the Constitution ... and on the basis of the law,” Luzhkov said in televised remarks.

Is Moscow REALLY that expensive?

I have been bombarded with a lot of questions about the recent article in CNN about the most expensive city on Earth, Moscow. So here is my another neat contribution to the welfare and well-being of who is now considering to move as an expat to Moscow. Read it well and decide wisely...

Is Moscow REALLY that expensive?1. Housing: So your company isn't subsidizing your housing (which means that you are nowhere in the hierarchy to be seen...and will be remarked as a filthy expat) and you need a flat for your own. Think Moscow map as a geometric entity of concentric three circles with the origin in Red Square. The basic logic is that the more you are distanced from Red Square, the rents seem to decrease; it is also according to basic urban planning that the houses gets newer. A one room flat with a moderate remont (which means a slight upgrade from filthy soviet furniture and plumbing to a more civilized way of living) starts from 750$ and may skyrocket to 3500$. The difference will be the amount of filth and stench in the corridors (never mind, they will always be stinking) and the distance to the metro station. If you go out of the biggest circle and live theoretically out of Moscow, you can find cheaper and newer alternatives but you will be ages away from the Moscow life (which also reduces your daily nuclear intake). So your average rent will be 1000$ for a one or two roomed flat inside Moscow. Be prepared to pay 3 times the rent in an istance; because landlords expect you to pay 2 rents (1 for insurance and 1 for the first month in advance)..and the real estate agents also make a fortune by getting one month's rent for their service.

Hail the Soviet Remont. Notice the communist tap, it serves all purposes

Example1: They can ask 1000$ for this one room, be prepared

Example2: This flat (or room) will be gone in seconds for 750$ if in center

2. Food: Unless you are planning to be fed from McDonalds and enter the wonderful world of obesity (a good meal in McDonalds costs 180 rubles, 5$, and your cardiac health), you will need to cook and/or eat in a healthier alternative. A well-fed visit to a normal restaurant (like Il Patio,the cheap imitation of an italian eatery) will cost you 500-750 rubles, 20-30$ without alcohol. If you are an avid cook, you will be well-off with good priced supermarkets like Auchan (yes I am advertising!!). Avoid the others, especially Ramstores, overexpensive.

Eating Russian food at home: GOD BLESS MAYONNAISE IN EVERYTHING! and vodka with everything

3. Night Life: It is almost impossible to be away from the nightlife in Moscow because it practically continues 24 hours. Moscow has alternatives and millions of venues ranging from uber-pathos (100$ for a tequila shot...and anyway, if you are thinking about the rent, then it is highly probable that you are not chic enough to pass the face control to be allowed in) to more democtratic drinking alleys (80 cents for 0.5l beer). Don't forget that all those places are full and steaming on the weekend...so it depends on your choice. iof you don't drink and prefer to stay in, it is also great (and boring)

I know what makes...

... you stay in here. :)

4. Transportation: Moscow has wo things that you cannot do with (and do without)...The Metro. You can reach practically everywhere with Metro inside the biggest circle (by the way it is called MKAD) and a 20-ticket card costs 250 rubles, 10$. As your Russian progresses, you can get any Lada and bargain for the price to get you anywhere (I have personally seen a bargain for a ride to St.Peterburg).

So here I will use my engineering background for a quick expense calculation :)

Rent: ~1000$ (one or twoo roomed flat inside MKAD)
Transportation (for one): 600 rubles (25$)
Food (for one): ~250$ (if you eat at home)
Entertainment: ~250$ (for a domestic expats)

so it makes a rough 1600$ basic...you may add costs for clothing (go buy your clothing in Turkey...yes, I am advertising), medicine (it is also cheap)...etc.

Don't come here if you aren't paid like this (Note: The notes are 1000 Roubles, 40$)

So it is up to you to decide if Moscow is really expensive or not?

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