Russia Raises Minimum Wage Just Month Ahead of Elections

The Russian parliament has passed legislation raising the minimum wage by up to 43%, The Moscow Times reports. The move comes ahead of schedule and slightly over a month before the presidential elections.

With the vote approaching March 18, President Vladimir Putin had previously pledged to raise the minimum wage to the minimum subsistence level by late spring.

The bill that passed its third and final reading in the State Duma on Friday is set to raise the minimum monthly wage to 11,163 rubles ($198) by May 1, 2018.

The Duma’s Twitter account said Russia’s lowest-earning income bracket would earn 43 percent more after the changes than what they earned last year.

The latest increase adds nearly 2,000 rubles to the minimum wage and brings it level to the minimum subsistence level.

Later on Friday, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said the government would subsidize regions unable to finance the minimum wage increase, the RBC business portal reported.

Russian consumers’ real wages have decreased for four years straight in 2017, despite the national economy climbing out of recession following western sanctions and falling oil prices.

Real income plunged by 1,7% in the 2017 year on year, although the drop was significantly smaller than in 2016 when the indicator decreased by 5,8%. Nonetheless, Russian retail trade demonstrated growth for the first time in three years. It increased by 1,2%, which is seen as a sign that the economy is overcoming the peak of the crisis.