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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

How Not to Survive on an Average Monthly Wage

Komsomolskaya Pravda gave some its correspondents the task of "sacrificing all life's good things and limiting their expenses to the average monthly salary of Russian citizens." One of them was able to last for 12 days on the 300,000 rubles ($63) that was allotted for his family to live on. How do many Russians cope on such miserable wages?

The average wage in the country is like the average temperature in a hospital: Some people fall into delirium from the heat and others freeze from the cold.

The realities of life tell us that there is a big difference between the average salary and average income level of a Russian citizen. Every business either keeps two books or has other ways of compensating its workers. This accounts for the paradoxical absence of people starving to death because of the obvious impossibility of providing for a family on an average salary. Or even on two average salaries.

Clearly, there are few people who are satisfied with only one salary. Businesses also seek extra workers [off the books], who escape the tax authorities' audits. I would even dare to say that Russians' resources for getting by have not all been exhausted yet. Kitchen-gardens, dachas, plots of land for potatoes do help, of course. Besides, there are still people's apartments. I know more than one family that rents out its apartment in the center of the city and, at the same time, rents another on the outskirts for itself. They live, in essence, off the difference in price. Just like the many chelnoki (Russians who shuttle back and forth to other countries to sell the foreign products they acquire at a profit) at the markets.

Of course, I would rather live well under this system and do nothing about it. But, unfortunately, this is not possible. Even at the time when all of society was meant to be equal, there were always people who were "more equal." And personally, I will never forgive [the authorities] for the time my wife fainted while standing in a monstrously long line waiting for some kind of idiotic sweater. I would rather faint myself from exhaustion, because I am a man after all, and in order that my family could live like human beings and not on an average salary.

Komsomolskaya Pravda, Feb. 22.

Our Dear Apartments

Yelena Shomina, director of the Russian Academy of Sciences' housing policy center, looks at how Russians' attitudes toward housing differ from Western ones.

Throughout the world, the apartment is the most fundamental piece of property, in which people invest their money. We [Russians] are only beginning to understand that apartments can become the objects of purchase or sale. And once you start thinking about the possibilities, then you realize that a decent apartment can fetch big money. It is no accident that in the West, much attention is being given to such things as the social significance of one's address. The address printed on a business card can almost guarantee a city-dweller certain kinds of employment, club memberships and banking services.

Here in Russia, the situation is a little different. Everyone had become so spoiled under the state's paternalism that after several generations of being spoon-fed, our demands became quite modest. The low housing-construction standards of Moscow's early days should never be forgotten. Yet, to this day, millions recall getting their apartments in the '60s as one of the happiest events of their lives -- comparable to wedding days and children's births. The foreigner, accustomed to being able to change residence for any number of reasons, will never understand why we are so devoted to our apartments.

Obshaya Gazeta, Feb. 22-28.

The High Life

Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov is raising the prices on city-owned "exclusive" housing, which are special, luxurious apartments reserved for prominent people.

Mayor Luzhkov approved plans to change the way the value of "exclusive" apartments, which is set by the Moscow government, is calculated.

Such apartments are usually sold to Duma deputies, officials in the president's administration and certain ordinary citizens. The price will be determined by such factors as the condition of the residence, its location and the number of amenities (garbage chutes, balconies, etc.). And since the apartments that are sold by special order are usually extremely prestigious, then it is likely their prices will rise.

The proceeds from the sale of these apartments will be put in a special extra-budget fund of the Moscow government, from which the construction of the Church of Christ the Savior and the recreation and trade center on Manezh Square are partly funded.

Moskovsky Komsomolets, Feb. 20.