Vladimir Putin lies to say that he “never was part of the so-called elites” but instead feels himself part of the Russian people as a whole. (See, for example, his assertions here.) But on his 64th birthday yesterday, he was in a very different position from all other Russians.
The OpenRussia portal makes that point compellingly by imagining the life Putin would be leading if he were a regular Russian of the same age, a point that highlights just how far he is from the reality other Russians now face in large part thanks to his policies and practices.
Among its key comparisons:
If Putin were an ordinary Russian, he’d be suffering from one or another life-threatening diseases, which he would probably be treating with folk medicines because of the increasing difficulties in getting care in public hospitals, and could look forward on average to living only another two years.
If Putin were an ordinary Russian, he would be living with his wife who will certainly survive him and have “at a minimum,” one adult child living independently from him and his spouse.
If Putin were an ordinary Russian, he’d probably be living in a small or medium-sized city and have a privatized apartment of approximately 24 square meters (220 square feet).
If Putin were an ordinary Russian, he’d have a pension of slightly more than 13,000 rubles (200 US dollars) a month and might have additional work as a guard or courier. In the best case, he would have a total monthly income of 35,000 to 40,000 rubles (580 to 650 US dollars).
If Putin were an ordinary Russian, he’d be spending about half of his pension on housing and the other half on medicines and health care. He’d have to have at least a part-time job to do other things like feed and clothe himself.
If Putin were an ordinary Russian, he wouldn’t have a car or would have a used one. He would be able to take advantage of special rates for the elderly on public transport.
If Putin were an ordinary Russian, his chief form of entertainment would be watching television. In the summertime, he might go fishing or to a dacha. When not watching TV, he might read books and newspapers.
If Putin were an ordinary Russian, he would be dreaming about travel abroad; but such things would only be a dream. He would at the most hope to visit Crimea, but most of the time he would go nowhere.
If Putin were an ordinary Russian, he’d be buying ever lower quality and thus less expensive food as a result of the current crisis. He’d be suffering from a lack of “almost all” vitamins and minerals as a result and that would make his health and life expectancy prospects even worse.
And if Putin were an ordinary Russian, he wouldn’t be celebrating his birthday given that most elderly Russians don’t consider birthdays an important holiday.
Fortunately for the Kremlin leader, he isn’t an ordinary Russian; unfortunately for all of them and for the rest of us as well, he isn’t an ordinary Russian either.