Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has taken a page out of FDR’s playbook with weekly televised talks to his countrymen. Problem is, few of them are watching.
A recent poll revealed for example, that a third of Russians expected to lose their jobs in the immediate future.
February’s industrial output, including oil and minerals, was down 13.2% versus the same month last year, and manufacturing output shriveled a whopping 20%, according to the Economist.
Meanwhile wage arrears, the most visible symptom of Russia’s economic chaos in the 1990s, are creeping up again. State-approved reports suggest that more than 500,000 people had pay withheld temporarily last month, which is higher than at any point in 4 years.
Given these are state-approved reports, one can only imagine how bad the matter has actually become.
Medvedev has even taken the unusual step of appealing for help from the oligarchs. They have “a moral role” to preserve jobs, he stated while reminding them how easily they amassed wealth during different economic times.
“It’s time to repay debts, moral debts,” he said in his last chat.
“If a person really has become a businessman, he knows how to value his employees.”
Then he waded directly into the fray, calling it “unacceptable” that billionaire Mikhail Fridman’s Alfa Bank was threatening to close down billionaire Oleg Deripaska’s Basic Element, laying off tens of thousands in the process, if the latter didn’t repay an overdue $650m loan.
The oligarchs buried the hatchet the next day.