So median income is falling in terms of actual purchasing power, just not quite that fast.
You might need to apply for a crappy card at first if you really have NO history
Getting a credit card with no history whatsoever might be tricky unless you're really young. But even in that case, pretty much any bank will happily give you a credit card if you place a security deposit with them (the credit limit will then be tied to the amount of said deposit). That still counts as credit and lets you build up credit score - and eventually they will release the deposit. I had to resort to that when I moved into US from another country - given my age and employment, combined with the complete and utter lack of any credit score records whatsoever, that's the only arrangement that I could find. I got my security deposit back on the second year of using the card, and started getting more card offers from other banks at about the same time, which I assume coincides with crossing some threshold on the credit score.
They already have to include non-Slavs, though. Remember that Russia is like 10-15% Muslim (depending on who you ask), and most of these are non-Slavs. Then of course you have a bunch of other guys like Yakuts or Buryats.
The overarching ideology is actually Eurasianism; Russians are seen as the "core nation" in that model, the one that binds everyone else together around it. Not dissimilar to how Stalin described USSR after WW2.
You still missed the point, sorry
What I was saying is that your premise - "if he crashes the economy his country is no longer a threat to the world" - is incorrect. For one thing, it's always tempting to "fix" the crashed economy by going to war. But even if it doesn't actually fix it, it can be that last "okay, if we're going down, you're going down with us" sort of gesture. Yes, a country with a ruined economy won't be able to wage a protracted war, but it doesn't need to do so to make others hurt, and the bombs and the missiles won't magically disappear. Nor will the manpower - and said manpower is only going to be more desperate and therefore (with the right coaching) more angry.
Now, as to why I believe that such a war would work to bolster inner popularity. The trick, of course, is to present it in such a manner that the war is declared on you. Russian TV has already been quite successful at spinning things that way about Ukraine - a recent poll showed that 94% of Russians get their news primarily from TV channels (all of which are now state-run or indirectly state-controlled), and 75% believe that its coverage is truthful and objective. Only 25% believe that "propaganda" is an apt description for what they're seeing.
So, really, all Putin needs to do to escalate to war is to keep provoking the West, and then blowing up any responses as something big. And heck, there are tried and proven methods to get a decent casus belli when the time comes - see Mainila incident for an example. After all the crazy conspiracy theories that are eagerly accepted for granted in Russia (by the population, not by politicians!) just to be able to preserve the "we are the good guys" mentality... something like that would be swallowed very easily.
And yes, the "patriotic" fervor in Russia today is such that, with the right sugar-coating, the population will happily swallow the war pill. If they are explained that all economic woes are due to Western shenanigans (and the occasional spy/saboteur - for the sake of some public circus).
Hell, they are already clamoring for war, seemingly more so than the government itself. Did you see #PutinVvediVoiska ("Putin, move the armed forces in!" [to Ukraine]) Twitter hashtag? It's only growing in popularity as more sanctions come in. Then there's another thing where people are mocking the sanctions themselves - that is also going pretty strong.
That is fucking stealing and you know it. Whether or not a physical object was stolen is useless in 2014.
* Citation needed
Also could you explain why no pirate has ever been charged with theft? As I recall, most pirates that get caught have been subject to civil lawsuits, not criminal complaints.
Central Asian migrants speak Russian well enough to be ordered around, and I don't think the powers that be are particularly concerned about the Russian culture, to be honest.
They do have plenty of support inside Russia. If they announce a crusade against "traitors", there will be even more.
Oh, and the other aspect of it is who is going to come to power if Putin steps away. If you asked me that question in 2011, I still had hopes that pro-western liberals had a chance (at least in a coalition with moderate nationalists). Now, though, I'd say that the people who will use the opportunity will be the ones like Strelkov and Borodai - and Putin will be a sane angel in comparison.
In fact, given that there is seemingly some bickering between Kremlin and DNR/LNR leaders, I would say that the most likely (as in, more likely than anything else - still rather unlikely in general) possibility of Putin being ousted at this point is if Strelkov and his guard escape Ukrainian forces, cross the border to Russia, and announce that they're heading for Moscow to punish the traitors who backstabbed them. There's already plenty of talk going around about how Putin is "betraying the Russian Spring" by refusing to commit full support to the rebels. If a charismatic figure like Strelkov would formally voice such a complaint, and have several thousand battle-hardened fighters standing behind him, I honestly don't know how that would go - except that there would be a rush of volunteers (from extreme nationalists, monarchists, maybe even some Stalinist-type communists) to his ranks.
You missed the point. It will not take 2 or 5 or 10 years to get rid of him. If the economy crashes now (or in 5 years), he'll just blame the West (cuz sanctions), and will use it as an excuse to crack down on the "fifth column" and the "national traitors", that he already identified as the enemies in his speech earlier this year, even more. If it gets really tight, why, time for another war, nothing like some shooting to make sure people don't grumble too much about rising prices and lack of goods. Georgia, perhaps?
The "whole Western World" is not a monolithic entity. You can say what you want about Israel or Jews in US, for example.
Ukraine has similarly low birth rates, so it's not a solution. And in any case, the present Russian regime has been solving the birth rate issue in a way similar to most other countries - by immigration (from Central Asia).
The problem with economic sanctions is that they, ironically, work to solidify Putin's power hold.
The original reason for strong popular support behind Putin was that he oversaw a decade of steady economic growth. For many people in Russia, it was the time where they saw their lives change from borderline poverty to something reasonable. It can be argued that he is not the one to take credit, and that it's all due to high oil prices etc, but either way he got to reap the benefits. It's also what triggered the entire "imperial revival" mentality: people see that their country is more prosperous, therefore it is stronger, therefore it is time to remember the old squabbles.
Now, Russian economy was already in recession as it is, and likely one from which it will not require. The sanctions will undeniably accelerate it, but at the same time they give Putin and his clique the ultimate excuse with respect to anything bad that happens with the economy: "Americans did it". Thus, all the rage will be channeled overseas, instead of the people in charge. And if economy does collapse, what you have now is a country of 140 million, raging, armed to teeth, with a history of willing and able to pile up the bodies two to one (and even higher) to win. Oh, and with nukes.
I strongly suspect that, if the sanctions are ultimately successful, the immediate consequence will be the full-on ground invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Not the present proxy war with subtle aid here and there, but Russian tanks on the streets of Kiev, that kind of thing.
If the West really wants to help Ukraine, it needs to give it direct military assistance.