Russian deputy mocked on state-owned TV channel for minimum wage challenge: “You didn’t die, did you?”
Nikolay Bondarenko, a Saratov deputy, wanted to show that it’s impossible to live on the subsistence rate set in the region.
The audience and hosts of the Channel One show Time Will Tell criticized and ridiculed the Communist Party deputy of the Saratov Regional Duma, Nikolay Bondarenko, who is living on 3.500 rubles this month ($50). His opponents talked about the deputy rather than the amount noting that he did not look emaciated. They argued that in order to get by in the country, people should “grow potatoes and raise good children to help them with money” instead of increasing the cost of living.
Bondarenko announced he was starting his "diet" on October 24. He said that he had bought some pasta, potatoes, chicken, vegetables, eggs, sunflower oil and bread at one of the Saratov markets. However, the official could not purchase any cheese or sausages. He talks about his experience on social media; earlier this month he said that the real prices are much higher than those indicated in the statistical data. He ran out of all the vegetables and chicken by the end of the first week, so all he had was the cereals that he had to eat for two days.
According to the deputy, the experiment made him temporarily “quit the sport”, because he always feels hungry and has already lost 6 kilograms.
Video: Federal channel mocking deputy for minimum wage challenge
He noted on the show that only low-quality food can be bought with 3.5 thousand rubles, so the consumer basket is a “genocide of the population”.
The audience responded by advising him to quit experimenting and to get busy with real things. He is not disabled after all, they said, and is supposed to make good money.
The presenter, Artem Sheinin, stated that the deputy actually proved that it was physiologically possible to get by with 3.5 thousand rubles a month. To this, Bondarenko replied that people in concentration camps also lived for a while on a crust of bread they were given.
“You can tell us everything about the genocide on the 23rd (when the month is over); if you, so to speak, go to the other world. Then you’ll tell us everything about it. I hope you’ll be fine and so far, I can see that you’ve been well enough,” Sheinin said in a sharp riposte.
After the show, the deputy posted a video of how it all had been made. He noted that his microphone was only switched on a few times although the program lasted for about half an hour. That is why in some cases, he could not help but shout from where he was seating, because he "could not listen to that nonsense the propagandists were talking." Before the filming started, he was told to ignore those who would interrupt him, to “show emotions” and never digress.
During the break, Bondarenko said that he had probably lost some more weight in the 10 minutes of that discussion, which had been intense. “The United Russia deputies and some pseudo-experts keep telling us that we are fine and the food is cheap,” said the deputy. According to Bondarenko, he is now even more convinced that Channel One is intoxicating people and misrepresenting opinions.
Video: Channel One propaganda lies
Deputy Bondarenko decided to try and live on 3.5 thousand rubles a month after a statement by Natalya Sokolova, Saratov’s former Minister of Labor and Employment, that the amount is sufficient “for basic physiological needs”. The official said so during the discussion of a bill to increase local pensioners’ subsistence rate. The deputies proposed a 500-ruble raise but Sokolova said that 288 rubles would be enough. When Bondarenko suggested Sokolova lived on that amount herself for a little while, she replied that her “status” would not let her do it, but the deputy was free to conduct the experiment on himself. Note that Sokolova’s monthly salary was 150 thousand rubles ($2.203).
A few days later, on October 12, Valery Radaev, the Saratov governor, removed Sokolova from the minister post for what she had said. Meanwhile, the 2019 subsistence rate for pensioners was increased by 288 rubles, i.e. the amount she had proposed.