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Where’s Putin? Russia’s President Stays Out of Sight as Coronavirus Hits Economy

APRIL 24, 2020 1:40 PM EDT

“The Kremlin is reluctant to spend more. The general policy has been to hang onto money,” says Tatiana Stanovaya, Founder & CEO of political analysis firm R.Politik.

Many businesses are unable to take advantage of the scheme. Gerasimova’s company, Fitmost, is excluded on the grounds that it is an IT company, which does not fall within the 12 categories of businesses that can get help. “We’re one of many companies that are completely alone in this,” she says. And most of those that have applied have been refused.

At least 900 companies had applied for a total of $81 million (6 billion rubles) in such loans, but only 1.2% of that amount has been granted as of Friday, Bank of Russia Chairman Elvira Nabiullina said during an April 10 press conference.

The government “thinks they can ignore” small and medium businesses – which make up an estimated 42% of the economy – because it does not consider them a “political force”, says Stanovaya. “But the majority of people with decent salaries in the middle class have supported Putin because they want stability. They are the social base of Putin’s regime in some way. After this lockdown, the Kremlin could face a lot of resentment,” she adds.

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