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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russians Bleak Over Economy

Some 90 percent of all Russians believe the economy is in desperate straits and most think it will only get worse, a number of recent surveys found, showing that many people have all but given up hope of a stable economy in the near future.

According to an opinion poll by the All-Russian Central Institute of Public Opinion Research, or VTsIOM, this week, 88.4 percent of 1581 people surveyed across Russia assessed the state of the economy as "bad or "very bad," while a year ago only 71.3 percent thought so.

Twenty percent of the 1,500 respondents of a survey held in Moscow and St. Petersburg in the beginning of 1999 by AC Nielsen, the leading U.S. marketing research company, said the economic situation will become "very much worse" for the country in 1999.

Yet another survey of 400 people, run by the Public Opinion Fund at the end of May, found that 53 percent of Russians believe that the worst of the economic turmoil is yet to come. In 1993, only 37 percent shared that sentiment while 41 percent thought that the worst times have already passed.

A fund survey conducted in January showed that well over half of all Russian believe prices will more than double on consumer goods by the end of 1999. Some 22 percent said prices will jump 350 to 400 percent while 38 percent said the increase will be about 250 percent.

However, the expectations of Russians in the two largest cities, Moscow and St. Petersburg, appear to differ drastically from those living in the rest of Russia.

"Personal expectations [of the Muscovites and St Petersburgers] are ? more positive than for the country as a whole," ACNielsen said.

Although more than half of the residents of St. Petersburg and Moscow are pessimistic about their personal prospects for this year, the number nears 90 percent in the regions.

Young to middle-aged adults expressed the most positive expectations about their futures, ACNielsen said.

"Young Russians don't believe that a country so rich in physical and human resources can remain for long in this current state," said Eugene Kazakov, a senior consumer research executive in ACNielsen Moscow.

The situation in the large cities is indeed very different from the rest of Russia. Apparently the hardest times are being seen by those in small towns and villages: While only 14 percent of residents in Moscow and St. Petersburg said they were frustrated about wage, pension or stipend arrears, the lost cash was a sore point for 57 percent of small town residents and 54 percent of villagers, the Opinion Public Fund found.

Some 62 to 67 percent of rural Russians said they were upset about not having enough money for food, compared to 57 percent of those living in the large cities.

The most distressing factor that caused the biggest personal or household frustration was the shortage of money to buy basic food items and to pay bills, said 63 percent of Russians responding to a Public Opinion Fund survey at the end of February.

But Russians are showing signs of adapting to even the worst economic upheavals.

VTsIOM's results show that in September 1998, a month after the economic crisis of Aug.17 swallowed two-thirds of Russians' savings, 44 percent thought most Russians would never be able to adapt to the changes that have taken place over the past decade. Eight months later, only 38 percent felt the same way.

"People understood that a global crisis did not take place, that Russia was not bankrupted," said VTsIOM deputy director Alexei Grazhdankin. "[Some] people are now looking into the future with less pessimism."