MOSCOWAs the stock markets in Russia tumbled again Friday and the Kremlin continued struggling to shore up the nation's banks, Maria Isayeva emerged from a subway station near Victory Park and shrugged off the crisis with a laugh.
"It only affects the rich people! It doesn't affect us!" declared the 61-year-old retired bus terminal cashier, who seemed amused anyone might think she owned stocks. "We're okay. We're surviving, and we have enough to eat."
Isayeva admitted feeling anxious that her children might face hardship in an economic downturn but appeared more concerned about how others in the world were faring. "I just feel sorry for the Americans," she said.
Despite a stock market that has suffered one of the steepest falls in the world, a banking system on the verge of severe upheaval, and mounting evidence of troubles in the rest of the economy, people in Russia remain remarkably calm, even sanguine, about the impact of the global financial crisis on their country.
In interviews and surveys, many Russians expressed unease about the economy, and some are bracing for a meltdown like the one that crippled the nation a decade ago. But so far there is little sign of panic, much less anger, underscoring how insulated most Russians are from the financial system, how effective the Kremlin has been in controlling media coverage of the turmoil, and how fully people here have embraced capitalism, for better or worse.
Remember, Russia has oil, weaponry, and awesome mismanagement skills. A gruesome combination. What would Obama do? Wish the MSM would ask him? Me too.