“Dizzy With Success” Russians began to travel. With enough money to see the world outside of Russia, 10,000,000 of them began to go abroad annually. Their favorite destination was Turkey. Like Americans, they got addicted to social media. The Russian equivalent to Facebook is VKontakte. With salaries increasing, the financially favored in Russia began to appreciate high end stores, better vodka, and talking about Vladimir Putin, whose popularity was rising but has decreased due to COVID. Russia has had 1.34 million cases of it and more than 23,000 deaths.
Russia is on its way to becoming 20% Muslim this year, but Putin has loudly and publicly favored the Russian Orthodox Church. He brought it back from the fringes of society and turned it into a driving force according to Ben Judah. In 1988 there were 6,893 priest and deacons in Russia. Two years after Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow died in 2008 that number was up to 30,670. In 2015 Ruth and I visited the new Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Tirana, Albania, pictured above and below and called Resurrection of Christ. It was the best address in a dilapidated Balkan city where buildings with air conditioning were not using it. Albania has an embassy in Moscow. As President, Putin has really promoted Russia’s traditional religion. In 2011 a relic of the Virgin Mary’s belt was paraded through Moscow and more than 285,000 locals approached to kiss it. More than 2 million touched it as it traveled throughout Russia. Putin admires historic Russian tsars and took his country backwards in time to appreciate them, but he also looks toward the future and got behind Moscow City, an international business center that won’t be completed until 2024, the year that the Russian economy will outpace France according to Ben Judah.
Russia’s economic future with Putin in charge looks rosy, but storms are on the horizon. Will Vladimir Putin be linked to the poisoning of his chief rival Alexey Navalny in 2020? Will the unrest in Ukraine and Belarus continue?Stay tuned.