Russia has a huge fund for times of crisis. But Putin is hesitating on a sweeping rescue plan.
“He’s a very optimistic cat, and very friendly,” said Smirnov, who could be describing himself. He took out bank loans for $27,000 to start the popular business three years ago.
Smirnov’s cafe — and potentially thousands of businesses across Russia — was hit by a double-barreled catastrophe: covid-19 lockdowns and the collapse in oil prices, a crisis for Russia’s energy-dependent economy.
President Vladimir Putin’s oil-price war with Saudi Arabia only sharpened the pain, leading to a humiliating reversal when Russia reached a deal last month with OPEC members and others to cut production.
Yet Putin seems oddly aloof from the disaster sinking small and medium enterprises in Russia that constitute up to a quarter of the economy.
He faces what many political analysts describe as his greatest domestic challenge since returning to the presidency in 2012.
But he appears detached, holed up at his country estate and content to delegate the business of saving the economy to lower-level officials. It’s …continued .
[Source: Washington Post]