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    Russian Press - Behind the Headlines, August 28

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    Russians Prefer Civil Service Jobs/ Printing Houses Refuse to Publish New Anti-Putin Pamphlet/ Mortgage Rates to Rise

    Nezavisimaya Gazeta

    Russians Prefer Civil Service Jobs

    A Levada Center poll shows that Russians prefer civil service and law-enforcement jobs, despite the prevailing negative attitude to state officials. Over 30 percent of respondents said that officials “care only about their own privileges and incomes.” Experts see no inconsistency here: when choosing a job, Russians believe the high standard of living that goes with such jobs is worth more than an honest image.

    When asked about the best jobs in Russia today, 26.9 percent of respondents said the best jobs are in the system of state government and 18.4 percent opted for law-enforcement agencies (the police, the security services, courts and prosecution offices).

    Only 13.5 percent would like to work at a foreign company, while 10.4 percent said the best thing is to have your own business.

    As few as 5.2 percent of respondents are willing to work at state schools and hospitals, and approximately as many (5.1 percent) would choose private institutions in these sectors.

    “The majority of Russians want a job that would allow them to feel in charge. In Russia this means jobs in the law-enforcement agencies and the civil service,” Mikhail Delyagin, Director of the Moscow Institute of Globalization Studies, told Nezavisimaya Gazeta. Salaries in the private sector may be good, but you will have to work hard and assume a degree of responsibility. “In civil service, even not very high-ranking jobs offer almost absolute impunity and fantastic opportunities for personal gain,” Delyagin said. He said about an aide to the minister of economic development and trade who died several years ago: “I later read the memoirs of his friends. It turned out that the man said there was nothing impossible for him.” As for law-enforcers, Delyagin said they have the power “to do what they want with people in the firm belief that they would never be punished for their actions.”

    This view is supported by another question in the Levada poll: “Which statements about top government officials do you agree with?” The overwhelming majority (64.7 percent) agree that the Russian leaders only care about their own privileges and incomes, 24.7 percent said Russia’s leaders are “educated and experienced professionals,” and 14.4 percent think they are “good administrators with high personnel management skills.” Only 13.7 percent say the current Russian leaders “care about the people” while 58.3 percent think their only concern is to “preserve and strengthen their power.” As many as 30.1 percent of respondents believe that Russia’s prosperity is very important to the country’s leaders.

    Levada Center Deputy Director Alexei Grazhdankin said the state officials’ image was seriously damaged in the mid-1990s, when they were believed to be involved in oligarchic structures or in their pay. He also said that Russians do not associate the prime minister and the president with officials. They believe that Putin and Medvedev are responsible for all our achievements , while “the government and other officials are guilty of all our failures.”

    However, Russians have recently started doling out blame to the top leaders, Grazhdankin said.

    Moskovsky Komsomolets

    Printing Houses Refuse to Publish New Anti-Putin Pamphlet

    Opposition leader Boris Nemtsov has admitted that no printing house has agreed to publish his latest report about Vladimir Putin, which details corruption and describes the luxury items the president uses.

    The brochure, co-authored by another opposition activist, Leonid Martynyuk, is Nemtsov’s ninth report about Putin, with previous brochures also describing corruption and cronyism, including the most recent, Putin: What 10 Years of Putin Have Brought and Putin: Corruption.

    The pamphlet with the catchy title, The Life of a Galley Slave, in reference to Putin’s own words about himself, will become available on Tuesday after a public presentation. Nemstov admitted to MK that this latest work has caused him the greatest trouble, even more than the previous ones.

    The out-of-town warehouse where 300,000 copies of Putin: What 10 Years of Putin Have Brought and 60,000 copies of Putin: Corruption were stored was raided by armed, masked men on the eve of the presidential elections in March. The raiders, who were from the local police, seized all the booklets and never gave them back, Nemtsov said.

    But this time around it has been far worse, he said. “None of the printing houses that we previously used have agreed to do our new project, no matter how much we offered to pay them, because they don’t want any trouble with the authorities. Moreover, even people I am friendly with and who have their own print shops have refused to help. This has only confirmed that we have been living in a different country since March, with a different level of fear of the authorities and of the possible consequences,” Nemtsov explained.

    They eventually managed to print a meager 5,000 copies.

    “We have decided to act differently now. These copies are printed at home and the quality is predictably poor. We will post the report on my website after the presentation, and we call on anyone who cares about what is going on in this country to reprint and distribute it,” he added.

    It is unclear how big a stir this new report will cause. Many political analysts predict a weak response because Russians do not usually get too upset about the extravagant habits of their national leader. They also have only recently watched the flaring up and fizzling out of a media war, which exposed opposition leaders’ own property acquisitions and expensive foreign vacations. Analysts also doubt that the authors will be able to provide well-sourced facts and solid evidence to back up their claims.

    On the other hand, the authors have hinted that the report contains some real bombshells, revelations that are bound to, if not shake the world, at least make Russians reflect on who the most corrupt person in the country is.

    Komsomolskaya Pravda

    Mortgage Rates to Rise

    Mortgage interest rates are expected to go up while the Central Bank of Russia has stopped buying rubles on the market. Much the same thing happened last summer, followed by a precipitous devaluation of the Russian currency. Many consider the current news, coupled with rumors about rising mortgage rates, to be a harbinger of economic turmoil.

    Leading banks continue to offer mortgages at 12.5 percent -13 percent interest rates in rubles and at least 10 percent - 11 percent in foreign currency. Smaller players saw a rise in mortgage rates, but only in tenths of a percent.

    The banks do not have enough money to spend. Borrowing abroad is difficult and expensive, so they are borrowing actively from the population, with higher interest rates on deposits. Banks are hiking the interest rates on loans in order to defray costs.

    “In July 2012, the maximum rate offered by the major organizations for deposits by private individuals reached 10.15 percent,” said Anna Lyubimtseva, Head of the Analytical Center of the Agency for Housing Mortgage Lending. “This resource is becoming more expensive because of the European debt crisis. Banks are being forced to rely on domestic sources of funding. But the mortgage market players can no longer compete for customers by lowering rates, as they did last year. They are increasingly turning to non-price parameters, such as reducing the number of documents needed for a loan. This increases the number of potential customers, but also increases the credit risk.”

    “There are signs that mortgage rates really are rising,” said BKF Bank analyst Maxim Osadchy. “There’s a credit crunch because of the euro crisis and capital flight. But I still doubt that there will be a sharp increase in mortgage rates.”

    Inflation could also have an impact on mortgage rates.

    “If inflation accelerates, mortgage interest rates will follow,” said Vasily Solodkov, Director of the Banking Institute of the Higher School of Economics. “Sharp rises are possible if the threat of devaluation is imminent, and our central bank supports the ruble instead of curbing inflation. If inflation does not rise sharply, mortgage rates should remain at the current levels.”

    The Russian Economic Development Ministry is concerned that inflation will exceed estimates rates and be about 7 percent, but it is too early to make any decisive conclusions. There is less money in the economy due to capital flight and Russia’s recent entry into the WTO should also keep agricultural prices down, but this year's harvest is low, and on September 1, utitilies prices will rise again.

    Experts are confident that the cost of home loans will rise slowly, although this is not really the sign of a new crisis.

    “There is no reason to dramatically raise mortgage rates,” said Garegin Tosunyan, Head of the Association of Russian Banks. “But there are causes for a gradual increase, related to banks’ reserve requirements. Therefore, growth will be within one percent in the next six months to a year. But I do not see any reason to expect a crisis.”

    RIA Novosti is not responsible for the content of outside sources.

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