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The Fragile Economic State Of Putin's Russia46:54
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With guest host Jacki Lyden

A weak ruble and a turbulent economy. We look at Putin's Russia and what its economic free fall means.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his annual news conference in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014. The Russian economy will rebound and the ruble will stabilize, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. (AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his annual news conference in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014. The Russian economy will rebound and the ruble will stabilize, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. (AP)

Not exactly the Christmas spirit in Russia, as the ruble plummets, then kind of rebounds, and President Vladimir Putin talks about his year of living dangerously. Indeed, it’s the rockiest year Putin’s had in 15 years in power. And indications are that Mother Russia’s in for more of the same: low oil prices. Western sanctions. And, continued tensions with Ukraine and the European Union.  Not to mention a frosty relationship with the U.S.  Russia may have overreached, but what does it mean? For the Russian people? For Europe? For the United States?  This hour, On Point: Russia’s troubles.
-- Jacki Lyden

Guests

Michael Birnbaum, Moscow bureau chief for the Washington Post. (@michaelbirnbaum)

Masha Gessen, Russian-American journalist and writer. Author of "The Man Without A Face," "Words Will Break Cement" and "Dead Again," among others. (@mashagessen)

Anders Aslund, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. Former economic adviser to the Russian and Ukrainian governments. Former Swedish diplomat. Author of "How Capitalism Was Built," "The Russia Balance Sheet" and many others. (@anders_aslund)

From The Reading List

Washington Post: For Putin, a year of successes and failures — on Ukraine, NATO and the West — "A year ago, most Ukrainians didn’t want to join NATO. U.S. tanks weren’t doing training exercises near the Russian border. And a dollar bought 33 rubles. But after the most tumultuous stretch of President Vladimir ­Putin’s 15 years in power, Russia is confronting a new reality. Ukraine — the part not held by rebels — has turned firmly toward Europe. NATO troops are on alert in the Baltics, hard up against the Russian frontier. And the ruble has lost nearly half its value against the dollar, wiping away years of gains for the Russian middle class."

New York Times: The Myth of the Russian Oligarchs — "Russia’s economic troubles probably mean that the moneyed elite will suffer, with more of its members going into exile or even to jail while their assets are redistributed. As for the rest of the Russian population, more than 140 million people, bad economic news is just bad economic news: It spells out-of-control inflation and real daily hardship. But neither the self-cannibalizing rich nor the newly poor are likely to pose a challenge to Mr. Putin’s power."

The Wall Street Journal: Russian President Vladimir Putin Strikes Harsh Tone With West — "Russia’s financial crisis could become the most serious political challenge for Mr. Putin in his 14 years in power, as officials expect the economy to contract at least 4% next year. Polls show support for Mr. Putin remains above 70%, boosted by his tight control over the media and political system, as well as his confrontation with the West."

This program aired on December 22, 2014.

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