Ready to Show Off: What Do the Russian Government and Dull Female Students Have in Common?
601 views   /  20 Jun 2015
The Russian authorities use large-scale projects like the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games and Eurovision Song Contest to demonstrate their ‘strength’ to the international community. They invest unprecedented sums of money to organize such events – often, at the cost of well-being of the country’s population.
By Anastasia Fistashka
The Russian government often resembles a certain group of Moscow female students. Those who practically live on bread and water, but spend their last money on a new Louis Vuitton bag. Those whose main goal is to give the impression of “expensiveness” to pass face control in a luxury night club, while living in a cramped rented flat and lacking money for essential commodities.
While the average pension in Russia ranged from about 5,000 to 16,000 rubles ($90-$290) in recent years, Russian authorities continued to spend mad amounts of money on expensive projects like the Eurovision Song Contest and the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games.
According to official data, the 2009 Eurovision spending was $42 million. The contest took place in Moscow and had become the most expensive event in the history of the song competition (the record was later broken by Azerbaijan in 2012).
Despite the fact that more and more European countries pulled out of the song contest due to financial constraints – as did, for instance, Hungary and Montenegro in 2010, Portugal and Poland in 2012, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Luxembourg in 2014 – Russia didn’t seem to be worried at all about its poor socio-economic situation and continued wasting money to show off in front of the European community.
In contrast to Europeans, some Russians have natural inclination to the demonstration of their superiority. Once a person reaches a certain level of prosperity and social status, he or she tries to demonstrate it with all possible means: expensive cars, luxury houses and clothes from best fashion designers. However, the sad thing is that even those who don‘t have enough money for such things, make every effort to catch up and spend their last savings for ‘must-have’ goods like iPhones and other flashy accessories.
The 2014 Sochi Olympics Games budget surpassed all expectations as well and reached over $50 billion, exceeding the planned spending several times. The allocated money, literally, “melted away” and ended up in the pockets of high-ranking officials involved in the organizational process and the construction of required sporting facilities.
To justify the high levels of corruption and the rise in prices, Russian President Vladimir Putin capitalized on Russians’ wounded feeling of national pride.
“After the collapse of the Soviet Union […] the general state of society was depressing and so pessimistic. We need to shake things up. We need to understand and feel that we are able to carry out large-scale projects,” Putin once said.
This strategy proved successful. Many Russians indeed were proud for their country and its athletes, who managed to win the world‘s major sporting competition for the first time in the last 20 years. But the fact that large parts of the Russian population still live below the poverty line, that pensions and social benefits are cut for the sake of the Russian authorities, who seek to demonstrate their “strength” on the global stage, make such events worth little.
The next ‘money pit’ will be – apparently – the annual Formula 1 and the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Russia is good at showing off. Thus, there is no doubt that the country will successfully organize such competitions. However, at some point, the government will have to come back to reality and deal with unresolved socio-economic problems similar to those girls, who return to their small flats and scarce everyday life essentials after one luxurious party.
The views and opinions contained in this article are those of the author. They do not necessarily represent the views of Russian Accent.
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