Everything Is Possible

Rustem Adagamov tweeted this post by Dmitry Glukhovsky earlier today and it’s worth taking note of.

“Glokhovsky on how Putin’s propaganda was able to fool Russians faster than Goebbels fooled the Germans.”

Everything Is Possible

I remember two years ago, I loved to speculate: how, I wondered, the German people, who are not only proud of, but boast a complex culture, refined and Western literature, advanced philosophy, humanistic traditions – a great, without flattery, civilization – could in just two decades completely lose control and turn first into a crowd, and then into a flock, to unlearn thinking – willingly, with a passion to unlearn – to believe an antisocial ogre, to make him into their national leader, and to take systematically, and with the German love of order to destroy the blood of other living people?

I was interested not in Hitler, but in ordinary Germans: why good citizens were willing to lose their humanity, why they need to take their neighbors into concentration camps, and why it was so easy to carry their children in empty prams sent from Birkenau.

I tried, but could not figure out what components of the human soul here in answer. My own country also went through totalitarianism, through repression; but in Stalin’s Union, it seems to me, that some other mechanism functioned: there, at the expense of mass and unpredictable repression animal terror was instilled in people, they completely lost the ability to think straight and resist, and humbly waited for whom Moloch [the Canaanite idol to whom children were sacrificed in the Old Testament] would devour next.

And a year ago, it was shown to me how it is. How people who for 20 years, like, live freely, which allows them (for the first time in our thousand-year history) to think freely, and the ability to choose their own faith and ideology, can in a few months slip back not only to the days of the Soviet dictatorship — but further, deeper — into some kind of Middle Ages.

It turns out that all that was needed was the TV to turn the media into a propaganda tool. This was done: simultaneously roughly, primitively, and masterfully. Joseph Goebbels could only have dreamed of such a tool as the modern Russian TV. So what for Goebbels took a decade, we cranked out in a year. The people were ready for this. Ready to believe that we are surrounded by enemies. That they want to break us up into pieces to occupy, colonize, suck our precious oil and our favorite gas. To gobble us up and digest. To finish us, and to raise the Stars and Stripes over the Kremlin.

Why do we believe them, why buy into a sometimes obvious lie? After all, we did not really lose the Cold War. After all, we are not obliged to pay billions in reparations, the US Marines have not been marching triumphantly through Red Square, and nobody has taken Kaliningrad from us. Where did this sense of national humiliation, defeat that is inflated on TV come from?

Of course, it is an empire that is falling apart and has been sinking for 300 years. None of the people who bid farewell to empire find it easy — even the Hungarians still cannot give it up. And yes, it became clear that the whole system of values in which we grew up, the ideology suddenly appeared wrong. But the main thing — the people in the new Russia had no sense of chosenness, uniqueness, majesty, there was no sense of belonging to a power, which is respected and feared throughout the world and that this world is changing.

The Russian has never truly been free: in his personal life, perhaps, and then not always. And he has never been full. And the state has never allowed him to feel self-respect. In all eras, respect is replaced by pride in his country. Based, of course, on propaganda.

And in the past few years, the country has been given no new reasons to be proud, only disdain and doubts. That is why the State celebrates Victory Day (May 9) every year with just pomp and ceremony. There is no more important in the history of modern Russia than the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany. The myth of the struggle against fascism and the victory over it was the main ideological myth of modern Russia, the main rallying point for the motley, multi-ethnic population of our country.

That’s the whole psychoanalysis.

But is this enough to make 9 out of 10 of my fellow citizens suddenly believe that a million people on Maidan [in Kyiv] — the same people, like every Russian viewer — received a salary from the US State Department. Believe. And believe that in Kiev have come to power real fascists, a cheap popular image from an old movie about the war. Believe in the roughly daubed hysterical propaganda plot structure about the crucifixion of small children by Ukrainian Fascists in Eastern Ukraine.

Believe that Crimea, if it had not joined the Anschluss, the Americans would have taken it away and placed their 6th fleet in Holy Sevastopol. Even my educated friend believe it! I tell them, nobody wants Sevastopol! Turkey, whose army is not inferior to the Russian army, has been a member of NATO for half a century, and completely controls and Bosporus and Dardanelles. Nobody needed Crimea, but Putin – to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO! They do not hear, they do not understand, they do not believe. They do not even want to think that this Russia invaded the Donbass. To say it out loud is to be called a traitor. No, it is Ukrainian fascists on a punitive operation against the Donbass militias. They needed a mythology about the Great Patriotic War….

And it is not getting better: now Nemtsov is murdered, and apparently, the TV, out of respect for the deceased cooled down a bit, and did not mock his corpse; but read the internet — and there, wound up, disturbed, stranded propagandised citizens, shouting, “for a dog — a dog’s death!”

And the probably ten percent, who from the beginning have seen in all the Crimean and Donbass campaigns the lies about the continuation of the Great Patriotic war, the inflating of anti-Western hysteria, — the pragmatic calculation, the cold-blooded manipulation of a stupefied population — now they are afraid. They say they are not afraid, and join tens of thousands marching in central Moscow — but they are afraid, of course.

If they managed to murder Nemtsov — then, probably, they can kill anybody. Whoever it was. And now — after Crimea, after Donbass, after Nemtsov — anything can happen. And the camps, and repression, and the strollers of Birkenau. Somehow it turns out that people quietly go along with it. And it is not only the Germans who are capable of it, we are as well, apparently. I do not want to believe it. I would like to reassure myself: this is panic, this is paranoia. But Germany, I think, had its own 10 percent who did not vote, did not march, did not yell — and they all too did not want to believe it was possible.

It appeared possible. And now, it seems, everything is possible.

Trash and Corruption

In a long post on her blog yesterday, Lubov Sobol writes about what she has uncovered about waste collection in the city of Moscow.

Since Sergei Sobyanin became mayor in 2012, Sobol writes, “most of the business of waste disposal has been monopolized in the hands of a few companies. 9 fifteen-year contracts, broken down by Moscow’s administrative districts, totaling more than 145 billion rubles were distributed among 5 firms.” And the selection process was less than transparent, she alleges.

“It was very interesting to see who is behind these companies… It turns out that traces nominal holders leads to high-ranking officials and oligarchs.”

Who are the beneficiaries?

1. Gennady Timchenko and Vice-Governor of St Petersburg, Vladimir Lavlentsev.

The company “Ecoline” has two contracts totaling 25.6 billion robles to collect garbage in two districts of the city. “Ecoline” is connected to ARKS, “one of the largest construction companies in Moscow.” According to media reports, the founder and owner of the company is Alexander Lavlentsev, whose son Vladimir is vice-governor of St Petersburg responsible for utilities.

Sobol says that Timchenko held a stake of 25% of ARKS at the time of the receipt of the contract.

2. Igor Chaika (the youngest son of Russia’s Prosecutor General)

The company “Charter” also has two contracts to collect garbage in two districts in Moscow. These total 42.9 billion roubles.

3. Roman Abramovich

The company “MKM-Logistics” holds 2 contracts totaling 40 billion rubles. There are three offshore companies associated with “MKM”, including Ervington Investments, whose ultimate beneficiary is Roman Abramovich. The beneficiaries of the other two offshores “are hidden in the BVI [British Virgin Islands].”

4. Sergei Chemezov

The company “Spetstrans LLC” holds one contract totaling 12.4 billion rubles.

“The only founder of the company “Spetstrans” is one Elena Evgenyevna Mochalova. She is also the CEO of “RT-Invest Finance” the sole founder of which is “Rt-Invest”. “Rt-Invest”, in turn, owns the company “Rostec”. Rostec’s permanent chief since the state corporation was founded is Putin’s friend, Sergei Chemezov. Even in 2011, the media wrote that Rostec wanted access to the waste services market, and in June 2011, Kommersant reported that “Russian Technologies” [Rostec] and “United Russia” [the party in power] had agreed to establish a national garbage operator.”

5. Unknown

The company “MSK-NT” holds two contracts totaling 21.4 rubles. It was formed in April 2013, and just seven months later “received its first multibillion contract for the removal of waste in Moscow. During the receipt of the contract, the founder and CEO of the company was Igor Mikhailovich Cheremsky. I’ve only been able to find out the following about this little-known businessman.”

“Prior to receiving this contract, Cheremsky owned 50% of a company called “Praktika-Servis” and competed with the company “Clean City” owned by Alexander Dvorik. After receiving the contract for garbage collection, “Praktika” has not participated in any auctions.”

Sobol continues on with the story, and concludes that “according to two sources, the beneficiary of the contract is Pyotr Biryukov,” Moscow’s Deputy Mayor responsible for housing, though she cannot get “official confirmation of this”.

You might be able to justify such long-term contracts if you invested in infrastructure, and technology for recycling, etc. Sobol writes, “but it has already been 3 years since the start of the first contract, and waste in Moscow is still burned and buried”.

“The contracts have been closed with the primary goal of collecting the budget money, and technology development, and improvement of the urban environment will only remain on paper. This is evidenced by the unfulfilled conditions of government contracts for the processing of waste.”

Even if they wanted to recycle, they couldn’t because there is not infrastructure for it, Sobol argues, and she places the blame sole on Sobyanin and his cronies for being more concerned with taking what they can from the budget.

Oboronservis

The Oboronservis fraud case seems to finally be wrapping up. To recap, in the autumn of 2012 the Russian Minister of Defense was sacked after a scandal broke regarding corruption in an agency [Oboronservis] dedicated to outsourcing services for the Ministry of Defence. Oboronservis was accused of defrauding the state through various schemes.

The main suspect, Yevgenia Vasilyeva, also happened to be having an affair with the Minister of Defense, Anatoly Serdyukov, at the time.

Vasilyeva was sentenced to a 5 year prison sentence this past May. She had already spent 2.5 years under “house arrest”, but had been spotted shopping in high-end Moscow stores during that time. Her lawyers had vowed to appeal.

On 20 August, it was reported that Vasilyeva’s father paid the state a fine of 216,287,223 roubles for all the defendants in the Oboronservis case.

UDO is the Russian parole agency.
UDO is the Russian parole agency. Alla Naumchova posted this to Facebook with the comment: “Условно Досрочное обогащение” [Conditional Early Enrichment].
Olga Romanova wrote on her Facebook page:

“It is reported that Yevgenia Vasilyeva has fully repaid the damages caused – 216 million roubles – and will be released tomorrow.”

Romanova also noted that Vasilyeva had “earned on the market: 216 million roubles was worth $7 million two years ago, and today, in order to achieve the desired amount of 216 million roubles you just need to sell $3 million.”

Komsomolskaya Pravda reported:

“Everyone who investigated the “Oboronservis” case is outraged in the extreme”, one of the participants in the investigation told RIA Novosti.

The Prosecutor had asked that Vasilyeva be sentenced to 8 years probation, to take her State Order of Merit, to fine her a million roubles, and to return to the victims 800 million roubles.

Yesterday, Oleg Kozyrev commented:

“The court did not oppose the parole of Vasilyeva. But did oppose the parole of Vitishko [an environmental activist arrested during the Sochi 2014 olympics]. And this is all you need to know about the parole system and the courts.”

Rustem Adagamov tweeted:

“Vasilyeva has been released from prison, where apparently she had never been. In Russia anything is possible.”

Ilya Shumanov of Transparency International wrote on Facebook:

“One of the most important principles of any anti-corruption campaign is the inevitability of real punishment for corruption. Lack of impunity. (No impunity).

You can speak countless words about the fight against corruption and send signals about its harm, but it is enough to release the corrupt and thus cancel out all that had been done previously, and [everything that had been] achieved.
Another anti-corruption campaign in the country has ended. Once again it has come to nothing.”

Konstantin Jankauskas noted:

“The “release” of Vasilyeva is a terrible shame for the country. A shameless and cynical public demonstration of the absolute impunity of public thieves before the law.

“Plunder and steal, the law does not apply to us.” This was the simple message that we received today.

Vladimir Osechkin publicized the name of the judge who made the decision to parole Vasilyeva:

“[Vasilyeva spent] 34 days in prison, and more than 90% of her time… just 5 minutes from the Kremlin.”

Osechkin noted the judge’s youth and said it was clear that the order had been sent down from above.

“I believe that in a year or two he will be promoted to a judge of the regional court. Unless, of course, he is not employed with a law firm with Vasilyeva.”

Don’t Drink Your Milk

The following article has appeared on fontanka.ru:

Rosselkhoznadzor [Russia’s Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance] has published on its website information “about the discovery of harmful substances in 100% of the products produced domestically.” The study was carried out by the “All-Russian State Center for Quality and Standardization of Veterinary Drugs and Feed”…, subordinated to Rosselkhozhadzor.

In the study, 15 samples were taken of Russian milk, dairy products, pork, poultry, and one sample of Hungarian beef. The results showed that all samples from Russia had harmful substances, but the Hungarian beef did not.”

Screenshot of Rosselkhoznadzor's statement
Screenshot of Rosselkhoznadzor’s statement

For example, in the four samples of milk, [researchers] found the antibiotic chloramphenicol, which is used in medicine for dysentery, pneumonia, gonorrhoea, and other communicable diseases. It is contraindicated in those who suffer from fungal infections, psoriasis, and eczema. It causes irritation of the mucous membrane in the mouth, and skin rash. With prolonged use – fungal infections of the skin and mucous membranes.

Metabolites of furazolidone were found in all the samples of Russian pork, which is commonly used for the treatment of diseases in the gastrointestinal tract, urogenital system, and skin. In some cases, side effects include possible skin rash, itching and hives. Contraindications include those suffering from kidney failure, liver disease and nervous system. It is also contraindicated for patients whose work is related to driving and other dangerous machinery.

“Experts… also examined a sample of Hungarian beef… no violations were identified.” said Rosselkhoznadzor in a statement.

Oleg Belozerov

First Deputy Transport Minister Oleg Belozerov had been on the short-list of names of potential successors to Yakunin.

Rumor now says the Rotenberg brothers had lobbied for Belozerov.

“Arkady and Boris Rotenberg supported Belozerov’s appointment,” Vedomosti quoted a source close to the government as saying. “They wanted to enter the railway business.”

Whether or not there is any truth in this is unclear, though a 2012 report had linked Belozerov to the Rotenbergs.

Belozerov’s official biography is pretty typical. He graduated from University in 1992, but then there is a 6 year gap, and the description jumps to 1998 (after the Putin clan had officially left St Petersburg for Moscow). He held various positions in St Petersburg business and government, and is connected to quite a few important people in the St Petersburg clan, including Viktor Cherkesov:

The most interesting thing about the man is the following fact:

Belozerov received this when he was heading the Federal Agency of Motorways.

According to the Russian publication Fontanka:

“According to his official [income] declaration, in 2014, he earned 10.5 million rubles, and his wife earned 12.1 million rubles. The new president of Russian Railways owns a 214 square meter apartment… that he bought in 1997.”

Belozerov had only just been promoted to 1st Deputy Minister of Transportation in May of this year.

Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich oversaw the official transfer, in his capacity as the chairman of the board of Russian Railways:

Meanwhile, Yakunin has still not officially been moved to any post at all. There was a rumor yesterday saying that he would be made Ambassador to Lithuania due to some legal technicality that said a Senator must be a resident of his constituency for a minimum of 5 years. However, this has not been confirmed.

Vladimir Yakunin’s Transfer

A rumor appeared yesterday that Vladimir Yakunin was poised to leave his long-time post as Chief of Russian Railways. He was allegedly going to be transferred to Russia’s upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, where he would represent Kaliningrad.

This was met with cheers on Twitter, with many automatically assuming it was a done deal. And today the rumor was confirmed, with Yakunin reportedly sending a telegram to announce his resignation.

Some are apparently viewing this move as a demotion, but I’m not convinced. In fact, I think it may end up having the opposite effect than the one these people hope it will have.

The post of Senator is a sinecure position. It is an appointed position, and not guided by the demands of the voting public. In addition, Yakunin is now protected legally by the fact that he is a Senator, and therefore cannot be prosecuted. Now, of course, as we have seen in the recent past, this protection can be taken away. But since Yakunin is trusted and protected by the Kremlin, this gives him an added layer of security.

This is particularly noteworthy in light of the fact that Yakunin was put on the US sanctions list in March 2014, after the Russian annexation of Crimea. He has not, however, been sanctioned by the EU, and was able to travel to Berlin in May 2014 for one of his conferences.

In addition, the position of Senator does not actually require a lot of “work”. I am pretty sure that showing up to vote in the Federation Council is still not mandatory. I don’t view this as a good thing because it will free Yakunin to do more work for his charities and research organizations. Both of which are arguably more important than his position at Russian Railways, and give Yakunin the clout that he has with the regime.

Now if Yakunin were ousted from his charities, then I’d view this news with more interest. Until then, I view it as just another transfer, and mostly meaningless.

[This comic shows two popular Russian cartoon characters bidding farewell to Yakunin.]

In All Seriousness

It’s August, and the Russian elite are getting nervous.

This post by Vladimir Yakovlev is the latest.

“I am sure that there will be one of two scenarios in Russia in the next few weeks or months.

Either a change in government with completely unpredictable and dangerous consequences. Or a severe social crisis with street crime, a lack of basic necessities, and a real danger to the life and health of citizens.

Therefore, in all seriousness:

If at all possible, leave, and more importantly, take the children.

Okay, not forever, for two or three months (this can be done without a visa), or for six months. But — leave. If during this time nothing happens, and the situation gets better, I’ll be very glad to be wrong.”

He continues:

“I understand that those who are now 25-30 do not feel the reality of such scenarios. I, too, at this age felt the same.”

Yakovlev then recalls how the 1991 Putsch happened without any warning. And he calls the fact that more bloodshed did not occur “a miracle”.

But he says,

“This time there will be no miracle because those who were then weak, today are strong, and those where were then in the country and had the opportunity to influence the situation are no longer here.”

He continues:

“The coming catastrophe cannot be avoided. It can only be experienced. I know I will not be listened to, but I still say that you need to stop swearing and understand who is right. Because it does not matter. It will be possible to find out later. Now it is only important how we save people — human beings, regardless of their political beliefs.

Because very soon, very bad, very terrible and very dangerous things will happen to everybody.”

Yakovlev then offers some advice, and suggests that a committee of public safety needs to be formed.

“Not to overthrow the government. This is something that will happen on its own, without any help. But in order to save the people in the situation that the country will find itself in in the near future.”

He says that he hopes that such a committee has already been quietly created by the likes of Navalny and Khodorkovsky.

“But if I’m wrong, and there is nothing like this, it needs to be done immediately. I can even recommend a name. What about 19-20?

In honour of that one night from 19-20 August 1991, the night at the White House, when the country was really united by the common desire to save itself.”

A Nation of Zombies

A photo surfaced on the internet earlier this week of a family in behind the grave of a victim of the Kursk submarine tragedy. The two boys are wearing t-shirts with President Putin on them. And the woman is holding what looks like a commemorative book titled “The Kursk”.

The photo was viewed with shock by much of the Russian blogosphere, many of whom recalled President Putin’s now infamous response of “it sank”, when Larry King asked him “What happened to the submarine?”

But Arkady Babchenko was more than appalled. He was compelled to write the following.

Babchenko writes he doesn’t even care anymore. He doesn’t “give a damn” about Russia’s future.

“I cannot change anything in this country…” he writes. A country “…where wives abandon their dead soldier husbands for money, where parents by their silence abandon their captured sons, and children come to the grave of their deceased father from the “Kursk” with the portrait of the man [Putin], saying “it sank”.

He continues:

“I absolutely do not care how it happened. To hell with the reasons why peoples’ brains were eaten. I am not interested.

I am not even sorry I have no country. This territory populated by these people is not my country.”

Russia had a decade of freedom. And they willingly gave it up “on a silver platter” in exchange for “stability” [one of Putin’s most often used words].

“I do not care how it happened. I do not care what will happen to them. I do not care what will happen to this territory – it is just a territory, there is no country, and no nation, only small groups of atomized angry zombies who hate anybody who is not part of their pack. To hell with them.”

“I cannot change anything, although God knows I tried. I really tried.”

“…if the country fell into the pit by itself – it’s not so bad. But it is not enough just to kill just her own citizens. She is sure to kill even strangers. To burn in tanks not just her own children, but also others. Zombies do not want to just kill each other. Zombies also want to kill people.”

“How exactly this area will die does not matter to me…”

But who will they destroy along with themselves, he wonders.

Babchenko concludes:

“I cannot change anything in this country. I tried – we tried – but failed. They are more. A lot of them. There are millions of them.”

“Well anyway, I am sorry.”

Earlier in the week, Sasha Sotnik had a interview with the Academic Yuri Ryzhov, who stated: “I think that those who are able, should leave [Russia].”

Sotnik followed up on Babchenko’s post by recalling that Putin had labelled the wives of the Kursk victims as “whores” for questioning the fate of their husbands.

“Today the list of “whores” has expanded. Anyone who does not like his politics, who are sick of his maxims and verbal somersaults, who cannot stand lies, neither at the state or household level.”

Russia is now a fascist state, Sotnik avers.

“Many of us consider whether or not we should leave. Someone [Babchenko] even declares that he “does not care what happens to this country.”

“And no story on television. No articles in the large-circulation media. Only deathly silence. Only photos of the children of the victims. Children who for some reason are wearing t-shirts with the image of the man who insulted their mothers.”

“Oblivion negates the concept of morality.” he continues. And then concludes: “This is how we live. This is how we drown.”

Inflation at the Store

Popular Russian blogger Ilya Varlamov has written a long post about how inflation and the so-called “counter-sanctions” are impacting Russians’ wallets at the store. This comes right on the heels of the government’s recent announcement that seven more countries’ products are scheduled to face import bans.

A year ago, in the beginning of August, when the ruble was 36 to the dollar, and people were rejoicing at the “counter-sanctions”, I went shopping and recorded the prices of basic products. And now it is time to compare…

At first glance, nothing really terrible happened. Prices have risen, but the average increase was about 10%. In general, the price of some products has not changed in the past year. But if you look closely, it becomes clear that the prices have been contained by a loss in quality. “Import substitution” takes place sluggishly, and with the departure of foreign competitors, Russian produces have received a carte blanche for a rate hike. Now, those who make soy sausage and other such s***, believe they can set prices at the level of the cost of ham, and the producers of disgusting milk powder believe that it can cost as much as the Finnish lactose free.

Of course, the price level depends not only on the will of the consumers. There is also the factor of the ruble. The ruble depreciates against the euro, namely the euro is often used for the packaging of Russian goods or, for example, for dairy equipment. It is logical that the cost of production per unit of goods is growing, and in the end, it cannot help but impact the consumer.

The anti-monopoly and other regulators have never and will never be able to keep track, so the president and the government cannot even try to make a promise on this score. And it is unclear whether it makes sense to regulate the prices, completely denying the market space to maneuver.

Fish

The price of fish has risen the most. No matter the producer country, the prices of all types of fish. For example, in “Utkonos” (a market whose name translates to “Platypus”) you can now buy salmon from the Faroe Islands, and “Azbuke Vkusa” (another store whose name translates to “ABC Taste”) is selling domestic salmon. But in both cases there has been a noticeable increase in price. In addition, there is less salmon. Earlier in “AV” you could find other types of salmon, at the time of inspection it could not be found due to the sanctions. In fact, no salmon steak, and no whole salmon were available in “Utkonos” at all. But there are pluses. For example, if a year ago, turbot cost 1500 rubles for a kilogram at “AV”, now it is possible to buy flounder (which is almost the same thing) for only 250 rubles.

By the way, about Russian fish. The price of the chilled fillets of cod from Russia at “Utkonos” has more than doubled , and the price of the Russian pollack in “Sedmoi Continent” has risen by more than 30%.

A year ago, in “AV”‘s “Fish & Seafood” section there were 27 options. Now in terms of frozen, chilled fish and seafood, there are 47. In “Sedmoi Continent” – 26 categories of fish. And “Utkonos” has quite a variety of fish – more than 100 items.

Milk

The price of milk has not changed in the past year. For obvious reasons, the European milk has disappeared, mainly from the Baltics and Finland.

Cheese

The situation with cheese is very bad. Most importantly, now in Russia it is nearly impossible to buy good European cheeses. The most notorious parmesan, or mascarpone, or mozzarella is impossible to find. You can only buy cheese from Switzerland. By the way, some patriotic morons are running around the shops with a camera and screaming that they have found sanctioned Swiss cheese. These morons need to be reminded that Russian retaliatory sanctions have not been introduced against the Swiss, so in terms of cheese, there remains at least some outlet.

I have never found good Russian counterparts to European cheeses. All that they are trying to pass off on us as parmesan or mozzarella is inedible crap, unfortunately. I hope that someday we will learn to make it.

Meat & Chicken

The products compared in this section are Russian. And in general, the stores mostly stock meat from Russia. There are, of course, products from other countries. For example, duck breast from France (750 rubles for 350 grams), loin of lamb from New Zealand (329 rubles for 100 grams), or a shoulder of lamb from Australia (600 rubles per kilogram). But for the most part, it is still Russian meat.

And apparently, a significant increase in prices is not going to happen. However, three things were surprising. First – the beef sirloin in “Utkonos”. Second – pork cutlet in “Sedmoi Continent”. And third – veal. The prices of all of them have increased substantially. And I could not find veal in two stores.

Deli Meats & Sausages

The prices have risen significantly. It is one thing when prices soar for Italian ham or pate from Denmark. The reason is understandable. But it is another thing entirely when dairy sausages from Klinskoe are 25% more expensive.

Vegetables

The prices of vegetables and fruits are usually affected by seasonality. But as the prices are compared with last August, this factor does not play a role. If you look at the situation as a whole, vegetables have become more expensive too. Among them – cabbage, beets, and potatoes. The price of asparagus soared, which is imported from the Netherlands and Peru at “Utkonos”, and beet from Macedonia at “AV”. However, compared with last summer, prices fell for carrots, peppers, and mushrooms.

As for the producing countries, “AV” is certainly still dominating for foreign vegetables: Israeli peppers, and eggplant and pumpkin from South Africa, and Turkish onion. At the same time, you can find Russian and even Crimean cucumbers and tomatoes.

Fruit and Berries

Grapes and kiwi and some limes have become cheaper. The rest is much more example. Take for example, “Granny” apples. Whether they are from Chile, as in “AV”, or from Russia, as in “Sedmoi Continent”. And the price of Egyptian and South African oranges has significantly increased.

Have you noticed the rise in prices? What products have you had to give up?

Regime Trolling

Following up on yesterday’s post on the Russian regime’s dramatic destruction of banned food products, Sergei Medvedev had an opinion piece on the subject in Forbes Russia.

Last week, Russia reached new heights of the grotesque as a result of the regime’s actions, he notes.

“…all of this has nothing to do with food security in Russia, nor in the effectiveness of the embargo, nor to the EU farmers.”

In Medvedev’s opinion, this is just another example of the regime trolling people. “Trolling the West, trolling the opposition…” Both of whom, of course, reacted true to form.

He continues:

“In the absence of political will and strategic thinking and under a shrinking resource base, trolling becomes the way of thinking and the principle genre of public policy.”

“The latest example of State trolling is the proposal from the State Duma to organize an international tribunal for the American bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In taking such steps there is nothing but the desire to undermine public debate, to anger the opponent (or the opposition), to throw insane ideas into the political arena.”

At the heart of the Kremlin’s trolling lies a fundamental weakness: the authorities, unable to cope with any challenges from the outside world, or even from their own society, places all force into the promotion and creation of information bombs, spam and flames, it creates constant media pressure, the total effect of a presence on all platforms – just as a troll who comes to the forum and breaks up a meaningful discussion.

This is because the regime has no political will to change the situation in the country. They don’t want to help the orphans, and the infirm, so they banned foreign adoptions, “shocking the West, and trolling the opposition, and human rights activists”. Equally, the regime is incapable of stopping inflation. They cannot even effectively enforce their own food import ban. So instead they dramatically ordered the destruction of banned food products. “creating the maximum media effect”.

The regime’s actions seem to be “intended to demonstrate the greatness and sovereignty of Russia and its particular spiritual path, its resistance of and contempt for material wealth.”

“In modern Russia, the demonstrative destruction of products is the transition from the era of conspicuous consumption of oil to the ostentatious destruction of the post-Crimea era.”

But the regime is only succeeding in making itself look ridiculous.

“So leave off crying over burnt cheese and crushed peaches…,” he concludes, “and do not feed the troll. Just ignore it.”