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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EDITORIAL: Not a Merry Christmas For Everyone




The Western Christmas holiday, when many of our readers are enjoying the comforts of a happy family celebration, is a good time to think about the millions of people here in Russia who do not have much reason to celebrate this year.


The financial crisis has cut living standards dramatically. Many people will not have the money to pay for presents on the traditional New Year's celebrations and their family feasts will be very modest affairs.


It is easy living in the isolated and privileged world of foreign expatriates to forget how much pain is being felt by average Russians. Certainly, Moscow is still better off than the rest of the country and its thick layer of "New Russians" and middle-class Russians is better placed to withstand the current depression.


But even here in the showpiece of Russian society, tens of thousands of people have lost their savings in the collapse of the country's banking system. Still more have become unemployed or had their salaries slashed as the banking, media and consumer-goods businesses have switched from boom to bust.


Some of the worst affected people, however, are those on fixed incomes, especially pensioners. Prices have jumped by 60 percent in the past few months, but pensions and other benefits have not been adjusted, if they are paid at all. The government is now talking about a modest indexation of pensions but only in April next year. Even the formerly rich city of Moscow is being forced to cut back, for instance, by reducing the supply of free medicines to the elderly.


Some of the most poignant stories in The Moscow Times have looked at ways in which Western aid, both institutional and personal, can help.


Local expatriate community groups are giving money to improve the quality of care at Moscow's orphanages or to feed the homeless on Moscow's streets. Groups like the Red Cross are active in those remote regions of Russia where there is real hunger.


Even for the more affluent readers of The Moscow Times, now might be a hard time to think about giving to charity. Many are seeing profits fall at their businesses and are economizing.


But it goes without saying that now is the time when Russia needs help. For Russia's poor, this will be a cold and desperate winter.


The Moscow Times takes this opportunity to wish all its readers a Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.