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Russia aims to pivot away from West

By REN QI in Moscow | China Daily | Updated: 2023-12-20 07:35

Increased wages

Still, many employees are pleased to be earning more. An employee at the state-owned Russian car manufacturer AvtoVAZ, who gave his name as Sergey, said: "In our production, wages have increased. This is mainly due to the appearance of an absenteeism bonus.

"Those of us who didn't quit, now work seven days a week and overtime. All this is paid at double the rate. The salaries are good. It's realistic to get paid more than 150,000 roubles ($1,660). But the work, of course, is exhausting."

Another clear change in labor relations is the exploitation of teenage labor, including in military production. Russians were well aware this happened during World War II, but it seemed unimaginable in the present day until the outbreak of the current conflict.

Across Russia, demand for 14- to 18-year-olds has increased by 60-70 percent this year, according to recruiters, facilitated by a new law allowing minors to sign work contracts without the permission of their parents or guardians. Children between 14 and 16 can work up to 24 hours per week in certain sectors, rising to 36 hours for those over 16.

While military conflicts have complicated the lives of ordinary Russians, some moneyed Muscovites are living their best life, directly benefiting from the military operation, observers say.

"Moscow is bursting with money," observer Sergey Medvedev wrote on Facebook, pointing to military deals and surging oil sales.

Writing for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Denis Volkov and Andrei Kolesnikov said last month that Russians adapted to the new economic conditions "in the space of just one year".

"Most Russians understand that the conflict in Ukraine will not end soon, and they try not to focus too much on military topics or developments at the front," they wrote.

Russian society, they said, has "learned to stop worrying about the conflicts".

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