Sixty percent of Russians are cutting back on food expenses because of Western sanctions against the country’s involvement in Ukraine, a new poll finds.
According to the Russian Public Opinion Research Center (often known by its Russian acronym VTsIOM), the rapidly depreciating Russian ruble and bans on foreign imports have taken their toll. In comparison to previous polling periods, responses have increased for virtually every one of VTsIOM’s questions that measure economic desperation.
Another survey has found that the affordability of food has decreased by 20 percent over the summer of 2014. “Affordability” does not refer to actual prices, but rather to a good’s cost relative to consumers’ ability to pay. In other words, Russians are unexpectedly finding themselves with less money in their pockets.
Besides cutting costs, Russians are taking proactive measures to save money. The most common method reported to VTsIOM was a greater reliance on fruits and vegetables from home gardens. (RELATED: What Russians Say About Life After Putin)
While “victory gardens” were a common tactic in the U.S. and U.K. during World War II, growing crops on household plots has remained a part of many Russians’ lifestyles through the rise of industrial agriculture. In some ways, this may give the Russian economy a distinct advantage over other countries that have recently faced international sanctions, such as Iran and Cuba.
As Western economies continue to punish Russia for its ongoing military involvement in Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin has responded by banning countless products from Europe, Canada, the U.S., and Australia. (RELATED: Russian Muslims Traveling To Fight Against Russia’s Ukraine Invasion)
Russians can no longer buy American chicken or French cheese at grocery stores, and the government regularly cracks down on illegal imports by publicizing their destruction with bulldozers and incinerators.
When VTsIOM asked Russians what category of expenditures they’ve cut back on the most, the largest percentage said “travel.” So Putin may have accomplished another goal of his unintentionally: keeping more citizens isolated in a country where he can control public messaging.
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