Raw Data: Russian GDP 1989-2017

In the wake of Russia’s election last month, I’ve seen a number of people asking why Vladimir Putin is so popular. Part of the answer, of course, is that he isn’t: the results of the election were rigged in several different ways. That said, he is pretty popular. He almost certainly would have won easily even in a fair election. Here’s why:

The Soviet economy was declining even before its final fall, and it started to improve before Putin took over. Nonetheless, the timing is close enough that it looks to the average Russian as if (a) the fall of the Soviet Union was a disaster, (b) the US-led “shock therapy” of the 90s made it even more of a disaster, and (c) Putin finally took charge and put Russia back on track.

Sure, the oligarchs got rich and critics of the regime were steadily shut down. But Putin is no Stalin and Russians these days don’t live in fear of being sent to the gulag. For the vast majority, it was all good news: they saw their incomes double at the same time that Putin was reasserting Russian influence on the world stage and unapologetically reclaiming its historic control over Crimea. If a few human rights were trampled along the way and a few critics sent to the morgue—well, Russia has never been a bastion of civil liberties, has it? And anyway, the self-righteous Westerners who gripe about this are the same ones who destroyed our country, tovarisch.

Of course, you might also notice that incomes have declined since 2013, even as the rest of the world has been recovering from the Great Recession. For a guy who cemented his control by pumping up the Russian economy, that’s probably a little worrisome.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

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