Americans are often confused and bemused by the internal popularity of Vladimir Putin’s decidedly authoritarian, heavy-handed regime. But it’s not hard to understand. While America enjoyed the Reagan boom, Russians had to put up with the chronic shortages of consumer goods in the late Soviet era. Then during the Clinton dot-com gold rush, Russians were suffering through the badly managed transition to a market based economic system, aggravated by the kleptomania of its new ruling elite. Pensions vaporized, unemployment soared and companies often did not make payroll.
That all changed under Putin. Aided by the surge in oil prices, Russia’s economy began to deliver basic goods and services, and, for some, affluence. Real Russsia offers this look at a well-stocked “Matrix” supermarket in Ufa, deep in Russia’s interior. It is a scene taken for granted all over the West, but unimaginable in the Russia of two decades ago, especially far away from the cosmopolitan centers of Moscow and St. Petersberg. The narrator’s English may be a bit wobbly, but the video shows the reach of the country’s economic recovery.