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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Watching Putin with a Pensioner

MTLyudmila Zuban, a retired Muscovite, watching the call-in show Thursday. She says Putin is the best thing she can recall happening to Russia.
Lyudmila Zuban listened carefully as President Vladimir Putin explained Thursday that officials must tread carefully in dealing with rising food prices that have flattened pocketbooks across the country in recent weeks.

And though she conceded that, following Putin's three-hour question-and-answer session, she still had no idea exactly why the bread at her favorite local market had become so expensive, she seemed more distraught at the thought of Putin departing the Kremlin.

"I don't want him to leave," Zuban said, watching Putin intently on the television in her two-room apartment in southern Moscow. "I will really miss him."

Zuban, 55, considers herself an average, retired Muscovite. She has a monthly pension of 3,800 rubles ($150), lives with her retired husband and a cat and is concerned primarily with social issues.

Having served as a social worker for 35 years and hit retirement age less than a year ago, Zuban is concerned that her relatively meager income will mean, as for many pensioners, a struggle for survival rather than a comfortable existence.

But Zuban said times had been much worse and that she considered the arrival of Putin the best thing to happen to Russia that she can remember.

"There have been a lot of changes for the better," she said.

Zuban said she did not have any burning questions for the president that hadn't already been asked by other pensioners.

After watching Putin's performance, she said she had no idea how everything he promised could be accomplished by March, when he is required by the Constitution to step down.

Zuban said she would gladly watch a similar question-and-answer session next year with Putin's successor and that she wouldn't mind if he's something like the current president.