Putintern: A View From Russia
Just as Western communists used to espouse not the real situation in the USSR but the myth of the USSR in the past, there also exists a myth about Putin. Unlike fairly solid communist mythology, this myth is eclectic: strength; efficiency; economic success; the fight against evil - from terrorism to ‘oligarchy’. And mutually exclusive arguments circulate depending on the sector of agitation.
Let us take a walk through this mythology: ‘from right to left’. Thus, according to the ‘right-wing myth’ about Putin (the myth favored by those who think more about economics and those, first and foremost, in favor of ‘traditional values’ and who are anti-migration) which is quite well represented in the famous manifesto of terrorist Anders Breivik or the statements of Ron Paul, or the former US Republican, TV presenter and now outcast Patrick Buchanan who considers Putin to be ‘one of us’, Putin appears to be a classic conservative who introduced low taxes in Russia, a supporter of family values and an opponent of the migration of alien culture. In fact, if we look at the classic research: Paying taxes (see page 155 and below), we can see that tax rates in the RF are higher than the global average and are even higher than in the USA and many European countries (48,1% compared to a mean of 40% globally; to compare: 44% in the USA, 21% in Canada, 34% in the UK, 29% in Switzerland, 48% in Germany, too, and even ‘socialist Sweden’ has a rate which is only 0.5% higher - 49,4%).
Labor costs are very high in Russia - in fact, apart from the income tax of 13% one should also include welfare contributions of 30% (some enjoy allowances on welfare contributions and that is why the total labor tax rate is estimated at the level of 36% and not 43%). That being said, in contrast to developed countries, there are almost no tax deductibles in the RF and it is not a family but rather a natural person of legal age which is a taxable entity. As a result, the effective tax rate is several times higher when compared to let’s say the USA or UK. The RF is the only one of the emerging economies to have a visa-free regime with underdeveloped Muslim countries of Central Asia. That is why in the RF approximately 9-10 million migrants are only ‘legally present’: about 10 % of Russia’s adult population and an even higher proportion of the able-bodied population. Due to the visa-free regime, a huge number of migrants can enter the territory and reside there illegally. One of the closest associates of Putin’s, Ramzan Kadyrov, organized a mass rally in support of the Islamic terrorists who killed journalists in France while Foreign Minister Lavrov participated in a mourning procession in their memory. As for the number of abortions, twice as many are carried out in the RF as in the USA, one-and-a-half times more than the most disadvantaged countries in Europe and over three-times more than in the prosperous ones. The homicide rate in the RF amounts to approximately 10 per 100 thousand citizens, which is twice as high as in the USA and eight-ten times higher than in the European countries.