Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Problems with Food Supply Now More like in February 1917 than during Soviet Times, Melekhov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 13 – Because of the political impact food shortages have had in the course of Russian history, any dramatic rise in prices or decrease in the availability of basic goods invariably sparks discussions about whether these trends point to a restoration of the shortages of Soviet times or the food riots that led to the overthrow of the monarchy in 1917.

            Nakanune commentator Fyodor Melekhov argues that the situation now is “closer to that which existed in February 1917” than to the shortages of Soviet times. Because now as then, the free market has led to a rise in prices beyond the ability to afford and the government sector isn’t capable of meeting this unrealized demand (nakanune.ru/articles/116586/).  

            The situation is especially dire beyond the ring road. Only 14 of the 85 federal subjects produce more food than they consume, meaning that problems with food supplies in the stores reflect not only production and the government’s desire to earn money via exports but distribution costs (https://agoniya.eu/archives/10368).

            In border areas, Russians are when possible going abroad to buy food, especially from the Far East into China. But even regions which do produce enough food to take care of local needs are still sending more to the cities than they are retaining, helping the regime maintain supplies in urban centers but doing nothing to help people in food-producing regions.

            Increasingly, there appear to be problems with this system of distribution: Those who process and distribute food are the ones who earn money from food production and distribution, and their focus on profit rather than delivery, something the Kremlin has been unwilling or unable to address, are exacerbating the situation.

            And one blogger has pointed out that Russia can’t count on anyone to come to its aid. After all, as a result of Putin’s policies, Russia no longer has any friends or allies who might be willing to and doesn’t have the money to pay what everyone else will certainly demand (trendsmap.com/twitter/tweet/1338201245014773761).

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