MOSCOW, March 6 (UPI) -- Russian state officials' salaries will be reduced 10 percent, President Vladimir Putin ordered Friday, starting with his own pay.
The cuts were decreed to demonstrate solidarity with a population dealing with economic recession and a government preparing to reduce its budget in the wake of economic sanctions, the decline in value of the Russian ruble and a continued global oversupply, and correspondingly low prices, of oil, Russia's most prominent export.
Last week Finance Minister Anton Siluanov proposed a 10 percent cut by all government ministries and departments, except defense, to keep a budget deficit from widening. The ministry expects a $240 billion deficit in 2015, largely because of the drop in oil revenues, and a three percent contraction of the general economy.
Putin's salary, as well as that of the prime minister, general prosecutor, head of the investigative Committee, cabinet members and other Kremlin officials, will be reduced.
"From the budget point of view this is not a profound aid. The finance ministry is trying to save money and will welcome the decision. But I think this is not a question about easing burden on the budget but a PR (public relations) move to show that the authorities are ready for a salary decrease," economist Dmitry Polevoy, of the investment firm ING in Moscow, told the Wall Street Journal.
The cuts will be in effect through Dec. 31, 2015.