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Economics

Rust Belt Russians Lash Out as Putin's Economy Sputters

The oil boom fueled consumer spending and raised living standards, while the industrial base languished. Now Russians are paying the price—and protesting.
Russian President Vladimir Putin at a textile mill in Vologda.
Photographer: Klimentyev Mikhail/ITAR-TASS/Corbis

Vladimir Putin's economic model has relied on abundant oil and gas revenue to fuel consumer spending and raise living standards. Modernizing Russia's outdated industrial base hasn't been a priority.

Now that model is tottering, as depressed oil prices and Western sanctions send the economy into recession. And Russians are increasingly unhappy about it.