The fledgling Russian government freed prices on January 2, causing them to skyrocket 345% and wiping out the savings of most Russians in the process. The economic decline did not abate, and by November consumer prices had increased some twenty-two times relative to January levels; at the same time the average wage increased only ten times, “indicating a significant impoverishment of the bulk of the Russian citizenry.” The vaunted voucher program, said to herald a “democratic” and “fair” privatization, was conducted in such a way as to be concentrated in the hands of a small number of elites and “undermining the ‘mass’ character the designers [claimed they] had intended for the program.” 1