Russia's Middle Class

It has emerged from the rubble of 1998. But can it grow and prosper?

Irina Lyakhnovskaya is a go-getter. Her hometown of Samara in central Russia straddles the Volga River and is surrounded by miles of fertile grassland and the Zhigulevskiye Mountains. In 1996, she started a tourist company, with seed capital supplied by herself and three friends, that specializes in arranging hunting and fishing trips for visitors from Finland and Norway. She drives a Russian-made Lada that she purchased new, for $3,500, two years ago, and she spends weekends at a country dacha that has an apple orchard she harvests to make her own wine. Last year she took vacations in Hungary and Romania, and this year she plans to get to Britain. In a country where the average factory worker is lucky to make $150 a month, she makes as much as $500.

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