Over half of Russians concerned about prospects for 2016, poll finds

Over half of Russians concerned about prospects for 2016, poll finds
Over 80% of those polled believe Russia's 2016 will be economically tough.
By Henry Kirby in London February 10, 2016

The January blues are likely to continue well into 2016, according to Russia’s Levada Center, after the Moscow-based polling company found that over half of Russians are looking to the year ahead with either anxiety or uncertainty.

The poll of 1,600 people across the country found that a 54% of respondents – the biggest share since the poll was first conducted 13 years ago – felt a sense of anxiety or uncertainty regarding the forthcoming year, while only 43% looked ahead with a sense of hope.

Those polled offered particularly grim predictions for the Russian economy and politics. 81% felt that 2016 will be a tense year, economically, and 71% felt the same regarding the country’s political outlook.

Only 1% said they feel very calm about the economy, and 3% said the same about Russian politics. Respondents were slightly less pessimistic when asked about the year ahead for themselves and their families – 37% felt calm about 2016 and 52% said they feel tense.

Russians saw their real wages fall by an average of 9% year on year in every month of 2015, while simultaneously suffering double-digit inflation throughout.

Things look likely to get worse this year, too, after the Russian Economy Ministry announced this week that the government’s assumption for 2016 of a 3% budget deficit is more likely to reach 5.1% of GDP if oil prices do not rise from their 11-year lows soon.