22:51 GMT +3 hours23 November 2014
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Putin Laments Russia’s Income Gap

Russia
(updated 18:28 28.10.2014)
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Huge income disparity remains Russia’s “main problem,” with the earnings of the richest Russians being 16 times higher than those of the poorest citizens – a gap comparable to that registered in the United States, President-elect Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday.

Huge income disparity remains Russia’s “main problem,” with the earnings of the richest Russians being 16 times higher than those of the poorest citizens – a gap comparable to that registered in the United States, President-elect Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday.

“Over the past few years, this gap has virtually not become smaller,” Putin, the current prime minister, told the State Duma in his last annual report to parliament before his inauguration as president in May.

In the United States, the incomes of the richest citizens exceed those of the poorest “by 15 times,” compared to a five-fold to seven-fold gap in Germany, Austria and France, Putin said.

Russia’s average salary currently stands at 23,600 rubles ($790), an 18-pecent increase in real terms and a 70-percent boost in nominal terms, he said.

He also said Russians’ minimum wages should be increased to the level of the minimum cost of living “in the next few years.”

Russia’s current minimum wage is about 4,600 rubles ($155), while the minimum cost of living per capita is around 6,200 rubles ($210).