Russia has many internal and external issues that make this country a uniquely challenging place. I am summing up what many have written about for the last decade or so. Russia has the benefit of riding on the coattails of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). The USSR wielded consider power as a World Power, and the bastion of military force that essentially destroyed Hitler and the Third Reich.
The USSR collapsed in 1989, a signal of changing times, not only for Russia and the Russian people, but as a global sign of Change. Therefore, only refer to Russia as the “Soviet Union” if you are referring to the time period between 1924 -1989. Otherwise, refer to “Russia.”
Russia is a pale shadow of its former self, regardless of the bluster emanating from the Kremlin, the Russian version of our “White House.” The current situation in Russia is not particularly good. The Russian state is essentially a Mafiocracy, a government run by organized crime. Russian leaders had no plan for the transition to a “Market Economy.” Leaders also saw the opportunity to take control of industries that were once government-run (state-run). People that were once in charge of the Communist Party, now found themselves managing industries, almost overnight, and earning lots and lots of money. As a result, Russia has more billionaires than any other country except for the United States. To get business done, they are not opposed to bribes, threats, extortion, or whatever-it-takes mentalities.
But this income is not equitably distributed. While some Russian people do very well, important jobs, in medicine and education, are extremely low-paying. Imagine being a doctor and earning $500 per month. Or, a teacher and earning $100 per month. Or, an engineer making $350 per month. Russians also find themselves plagued with a variety of social ills, from increased drug use, crime, and suicides. These social problems are contributing to a population loss of almost 1,000,000 people per year.
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