The middle class must grow significantly in Russia, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said in the preamble to his upcoming election agenda, published on Monday in the Izvestiya daily.
Putin, who usually caters his comments to the country's blue collar workers, said in his article that Russia had seen a rise in the amount of people who could be called middle class over the last 10 years.
“These are people with incomes that allow them to choose whether to spend or save, what to buy and how to spend their vacations,” Putin said. “These are people who can choose their politics. As a rule, they have the educational that allows them to relate to politicans with awareness, and not vote with the heart alone.”
Putin said that the Russian middle class now comprises from 20 to 30 percent of the population.
However he also pledged to tackle poverty within the next ten years.
“Ten to eleven percent of our nationals are still beneath the poverty line due to various reasons. We must solve this problem by the end of the decade, by overcoming the poverty unacceptable for a developed country,” Putin said.
Russia will hold presidential elections on March 4, 2012. Putin is widely expected to secure a third stint in the Kremlin, although analysts say his declining popularity could see him forced into a runoff.