20.9mn Russians Live in Poverty: State Statistics

Over half a million more Russians are living below the poverty line at the moment compared to early 2018, official data from the Federal Statistics Service (Rosstat) reveals, according to Lenta.ru.

Russia’s poverty rate reached 14.3%, or 20.9 million people, in January-March 2019, according to Rosstat. That’s up from 13.9%, or 20.4 million people, in January-March 2018.

To measure poverty, Rosstat uses the concept of absolute poverty when the income of the population correlates with the established poverty line – the minimum subsistence level. Poverty level (the number and proportion of the population with incomes below the subsistence minimum) is determined on the basis of sample surveys of household budgets. They are held every quarter and cover 48.5 thousand households.

Authorities set the minimum subsistence level for January-March at 10,753 rubles ($169), up from 10,038 rubles ($158) the previous year.

Real incomes in the country have declined and consumer prices have risen for the past five years, leading to a rise in poverty rates. Western sanctions and falling oil prices are also contributing to the trend.

“When inflationary pressure increases, it’s the poor who suffer in the first place,” Alfa Bank chief economist Natalya Orlova told RBC.

President Vladimir Putin is pursuing a national program on drastically reducing poverty by the time his term ends in 2024, aiming for 12% poverty rates this year.