In early November, SouthFront already addressed the problems faced by Russia in the field of strategic culture and national consensus. After the crisis of the 1990s, robber-baron capitalism and consumerist values have come to dominate culture in post-USSR states influencing various areas of society. Over the past few years, there have been some changes in this field as well as the efforts of the Russian state and nation to find its own way in the modern world.
Curiously enough, the bureaucracy is among the key social groups opposing the changes. This bureaucracy was formed in 1990s and early 2000s. In most cases, the motivation of such bureaucrats is their personal wealth, rather than interests concerning the state or the nation.
Over the past few months, there have been cases revealing the real faces of glamorous Russian bureaucrats.
On October 10, during a meeting of the regional parliamental group on social policy, Minister of Labour and Employment of the Saratov region Natalia Sokolova claimed that pensioners can live on 3.500 RUB a month (This is about 50 USD, 10 times lower than an average salary of an ordinary worker). Commenting on the issue of raising the subsistence minimum for pensioners, she claimed that 3.500 RUB is enough to satisfy the “minimum physiological needs” and advised them to eat “makaroshki” [a derogatory term for maccheroni] to save money.
“You will become younger, prettier and slimmer! Makaroshki cost are always the same!”, she said adding that discounted products can be used to create a “balanced, but dietic” menu.
In response the local MP invited her to participate in an experiment and to try to live on 3,500 RUB a month, but she refused claiming that her “status” does not allow her to do this.
This story rapidly became widely popular on social media and has been covered by Russian mainstream media. As a result, Sokolova lost her post. But her behaviour was not an isolated incident.
Another official, who has become quite popular in the social media is Olga Glackih, Head of Department for Youth Policy in the Sverdlov Region. She showed her stance towards Russian youth during a meeting with young volunteers in the city of Kirovograd on October 25. Commenting on the possible financing of youth projects, she stated that it’s wrong to believe that the state might “owe” something to youth.
“No, the state owes you nothing in general. Your parents owe you. The government did not ask them to give birth to you,” she stated adding: “You should do everything yourself.”
A video in Russian:
On November 6, when it appeared that her remarks had caused a media scandal, Glackih was temporarily dismissed from office.
These are only two examples of the behaviour often demonstrated by bureaucrats across the country. These cases became widely known thanks to new media. However, the major part of such situations remains unreported.
It is unlikely to be possible for Russia to return to its previous position or to keep its current position among the world powers if there are problems with the carcass of the state – the selection and formation of the middle level bureaucracy as well as social elevators.