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Russian legislators, civil servants agree to be paid less to bolster solidarity in society

February 25, 2015, 16:31 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara
© Mikhail Japaridze/TASS

MOSCOW, February 25. /TASS/. Cuts in the salaries of legislators and civil servants amid the ongoing crisis may help enhance solidarity and stability in society, polled experts have told TASS.

State Duma Speaker Sergey Naryshkin on Tuesday suggested discussing the possibility of cutting legislators’ salaries, as many organizations across the nation have had to slash their budgets by ten percent on the average. Under a presidential decree the law-makers’ current monthly salary is equivalent to that of a government minister 425,000 roubles (about 7,000 dollars according to the current rate of exchange). The presidential spokesman has said there has been no response from the head of state yet to the State Duma Council’s proposal for lowering the legislators’ incomes, though.

The legislators hope that more pay cuts will follow in the federal government’s ministries and other agencies, as well as public corporations. The state-owned company Rosneft, according to its own report for 2014, paid each of its thirteen board members an average of 215,400 million roubles (5.7 million dollars according to last year’s average rate).

Russia’s minimum wage is 5,965 roubles a month (less than one hundred dollars), and the average wage last year stood at about 31,000 roubles (about 500 dollars).

"From the standpoint of saving budget money the State Duma’s initiative may look not very impressive. State Duma member Oksana Dmitriyeva estimates that cuts in legislators’ salaries will save a tiny 200 million roubles a year - one hundred thousandth of overall federal budget spending. But this austerity measure will make it possible to avoid dismissing more technical staffers," the director of the Institute for Political Studies, Civic Chamber member Sergey Markov has told TASS.

"I believe that the legislators’ initiative to cut their own wages pursues not so much the aim of saving budget money as improving public sentiment. The legislators wish to send a message to their voters to the effect the burden of the economic crisis is spread evenly among all, and not only those in the low income brackets," Markov said.

"The initiative has one more important side to it - the politicians and legislators are getting aware of the collective responsibility for Crimea’s reunification with Russia and the readiness to resist anti-Russian sanctions, even at the cost of their own prosperity. Staff and pay cuts are in progress in the law enforcement and at industrial enterprises. But in society there is the understanding that it has to live through the hard times somehow. Political and social stability in the country remains," Markov said.

From the standpoint of restoring social justice and easing property inequality the legislators’ openly declared intention to cut their own salaries means little - the gap between the incomes of State Duma members and ordinary citizens remains enormous. What it can do is to better the rating of the legislative branch of power somewhat," the president of the Neocon consultancy, Mikhail Khazin, told TASS.

"The legislators have realized that ostentatious consumption and the unprecedented gap between the incomes of people’s deputies and the people annoy society and discredit the representative bodies of power. After all, the law on the minimum wage (which is a tiny one-seventieth of that of the legislator) was adopted by the current State Duma. Now the legislators will have to reduce their own salaries by ten percent, proportionately to the cuts in other federal agencies and law enforcement agencies, so that nobody should feel offended," the director of the Globalization Problems Institute, Mikhail Delyagin told TASS.

"The legislators’ initiative is a public relations campaign expected to persuade the people the authorities and society are united. That’s a high profile gesture, but it is also a very correct move bolstering solidarity in the country," Delyagin said.

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