Here we are, in a time of crisis, and once again Russia operates as a space onto which “western” (in this case, German) fears can be projected.
Moscow, so the German state television channel ZDF tells its viewers (at prime time this evening), is a city of mega-rich and shockingly-poor. While the rich ignore the crisis and continue to party, drink champagne and eat caviar (fade in: image of ballroom dancing, tuxedos, etc), the poor get poorer (fade in: image of poor homeless couple, freezing, being picked up by the police).
The strong implication of the rhetoric in the opening minutes of this “documentary” is that these issues are specific to Moscow’s glittering elite.
Such excess would never be relevant in Germany or anywhere else in the West/North, now would it? Especially not during a financial crisis.
Or would it:
- Partyelite Berlin. Vodka only 60 € for 1 litre
- “JPMorgan Chase, beneficiary of $25 billion in taxpayer bailout dollars, plans to spend $138 million for swank corporate jets and a new hangar”
- AIG’s infamous payout of $165 million in bonuses in this same crisis year. (Plus public backlash)
- Sir Fred Goodwin’s pension of £703,000-a-year. The former chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland’s “departure from RBS was negotiated on the weekend of October 11/12  when the bank was saved from collapse by an injection of £20bn by the taxpayer.”
- “Bob Diamond, the hard-charging boss of Barclays’ investment banking arm [...] has suffered a brutal £4m cut to his annual remuneration – leaving him last year with a meagre £17m in cash and shares.”
- Josef Ackerman, Deutsch Bank boss, also took a massive 90% pay cut, leaving him with only 1.39 million euros ($1.89 million) earnings last year.
And at the same time:
- “Numbers of Homeless Increase as Nation’s Financial Crisis Continues” (USA)
- “From June 2007 through May , PADS [Lake County's homeless shelter] saw a 17 percent increase from the previous year in new clients and a 48 percent increase in children.” (USA)
- Estimates place Germany’s number of homeless people between 300,000 and 860,000. (More on Günter Wallraff‘s experiences)