The entire world is facing very hard times now. COVID-19 pandemic has severely damaged the global economy, put many businesses on the brink of bankruptcy and left millions of people unemployed. Different countries undertake different measures to aid their citizens in this situation. Some, like USA, Germany or Canada, provide non-refundable payments to all citizens, others cancel utility payments or taxes for small businesses.
Russia has more than enough reserves to provide financial support to its citizens as well. As of March 1, 2020, the total amount of money in the country’s reserve funds was 17.7 trillion rubles (~$230 billion), or 120,614 rubles (~$1,580) for each citizen. However, the Russian government decided to take a different path. Vladimir Putin advised the Bank of Russia not to “burn its reserves”, and Moscow mayor Sergey Sobyanin stated that if they start handing out money to all citizens, “the budgets will burst”. April has been declared a “non-working month”: business owners are asked to send all their employees home while still paying them full salary from their own funds.
While most (if not all) Russians are strongly dissatisfied with the government's actions, there has not been a force until now that would come up with specific demands and unite everyone under its banner. This is why Alexey Navalny designed his own program called “5 Steps for Russia”. These steps are fairly simple:
1. Pay 20,000 rubles to every adult and 10,000 rubles to every minor right now.
2. If the quarantine continues, pay another 10,000 to everyone in May and June.
3. Completely cancel utility payments for the duration of the pandemic
4. Allocate 2 trillion rubles for non-refundable payments to small and mid-sized businesses
5. Cancel all taxes for small businesses for one year.
According to Alexey Navalny’s calculations, these measures will require a total of 10.2 trillion rubles, meaning that 7.5 trillion will still remain in the reserve fund. Therefore, this aid program seems more than feasible.
In order to attract the government’s attention to his initiative, Navalny launched the website 5steps.vote with links to online petitions on various platforms in support of his five-step program. The ultimate goal is to gather a total of 15 million signatures across all platforms: 15 million people is roughly 10% of Russia’s population, and, according to scientific studies, if 10% of the country’s citizens strongly support any idea or initiative, it will soon gain the support of the entire population.
Watch the video presentation with english subtitles.