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30 years after Soviet collapse, almost two-fifths of Russians say they have ‘barely enough’ for food, as prices surge – survey

30 years after Soviet collapse, almost two-fifths of Russians say they have ‘barely enough’ for food, as prices surge – survey

In the last six months, nearly two out of every five (39%) Russians have gone without food and drink due to a lack of funds, a poll has revealed. The country has seen rapid inflation of grocery prices during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The latest figures come over three decades after Perestroika and the market-like reforms introduced by then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, which led to worsened food shortages. The subsequent fall-out led to the collapse of the USSR, and the introduction of a hyper capitalist system, where a small oligarchy quickly took over key sectors of the economy. The 1990s were a painful decade in Russia, and while things have improved since then, pronounced inequality remains a feature of the country’s economic make up.

The poll, published by Levada, also revealed that 52% of all Russians have had to forgo necessary purchases of clothes and shoes, while 71% decided not to go ahead with essential large purchases for the home.

The Levada Center is registered by Russia’s Ministry of Justice as a foreign agent, due to its receipt of Western funding.

According to a UNICEF study published last month, Russia has 400,000 people classed as ‘severely food insecure’. For comparison, in the same bracket, the UK has approximately 500,000 people, while Germany has 600,000 people. The US, which has roughly double the population of Russia, has 2.7 million severely food insecure people.

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The new Levada figures come off the back of rapid inflation in food costs, with figures from July revealing that prices have risen 7.4% in just 12 months.

With elections just around the corner, the growth in the price of food has become a severe issue within Russia, with Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin coming out publicly to accuse companies of pushing up inflation by hiking prices across the board. In May, he pointed to the “greed of individual manufacturers and retail chains” as the main reason.

In a battle to reduce inflation, the government has created export quotas, while the central bank has hiked the interest rate.

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