New Russians: Who are They?

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New Russians: Who are They?

As a result of the changes this country has undergone since the early 1990s, a class of so-called "new Russians" has developed. These people acquired a lot of wealth very quickly (whether legally or not is another question) and have become somewhat conspicuous consumers. Very western in their dress and manner, these new captains of Russian commerce are demanding and getting the attention of others who are not in the same position. People who do not belong to this circle of the chosen few usually (and understandably) do not approve of their flamboyance.

These are very influential people purchasing prime property in Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Cyprus, France, and many other countries along with soccer clubs and other sports teams. If they don't own an airplane, they will fly first class. They go on dream vacations while their children attend top European private schools and universities. The best customers of Moscow's five-star hotels are Russians - not foreign businessmen.

While many wealthy people abroad try not to show off their wealth in public, rich Russians still like to show what they have and can afford - a habit that isn't always advantageous for them. You will see an amazing number of very expensive foreign cars in Moscow's streets and you may be stunned at the suburban houses these people build - complete with swimming pools, tennis courts, bodyguards and housing for staff. While the gap between rich and poor in Russia is getting wider all the time, recent years have seen the development of a small middle class. Its members are characterized by a good education, relatively well-paying jobs and entrepreneurial spirit.

With all it luxurious new VIP residential buildings, expensive stores and restaurants, you may be under the impression that people in Moscow are quite well off. In reality this is not the case. While the country's elite tends to settle in Moscow and there are a lot of rich people living here, the majority of Muscovites (and those in the rest of Russia) are struggling very hard just to feed and clothe themselves and their families. And just as New York isn't the USA, Moscow isn't Russia. If you want to see what the real Russia is like, you have to travel to the provinces and villages outside of Moscow, in Siberia and the Far East - although these regions have their own "new rich" too.

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