Finances: The Unfulfilled Promise of Reform Means That Working-Class Families Are Just Scraping By

The saddest truism in Russia is that life is harder now. Not that ordinary citizens ever lived very well, but most could afford the basics. Today soaring prices and an almost totally worthless currency have reduced even that way of life to a bare minimum. Look at what the unfulfilled promise of reform has brought the Vaktin family.

The alarm clock rings at 5:30 a.m. Nadezhda Vaktin, a 41-year-old hairdresser, heads straight for the kitchen of her family's four-room apartment in a ramshackle high-rise in the industrial city of Voronezh, 340 miles southwest of Moscow. Before the water supply goes off...

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