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Economics

Putin's Paradox: Popularity Up, Russian Consumer Spending Down

As patriotic fervor flourishes, Russian consumers cut spending

Photo Illustration by 731; Putin: Courtesy Presidential Press and Information Office

The Russian economy is rapidly weakening. Inflation is high; the ruble, weak. Interest rates are heading up, and disposable incomes have dropped. None of this affects the popularity of President Vladimir Putin, however; it’s shot up ever since he defied the West over Ukraine, triggering some of the economy’s woes by weakening the currency and goading the West into imposing sanctions. For now, Russians are backing Putin all the way and not blaming him for faulty economic stewardship. At the same time, they are cutting their own spending dramatically.