May 26th, 2014 | 13:56
Two months have passed since the moment when the Crimea was annexed. “Sobering” is hitting many Crimeans already, however, it should be noted, not all. There are still those who are ready to live with an empty wallet and fridge, but also to “die in Russia.”
Meanwhile it is difficult to find a really positive side to current everyday life in the Crimea. Let’s speak of the most profane – the prices on food and goods of primary importance.
The Crimeans are lamenting the empty shelves in shops and supermarkets, the ridiculously high prices – meat for 100 UAH on average, buckwheat almost for 20 UAH, bread which has become 50% more expensive… This is Russian reality in the Crimea today.
Dozens of trucks with Ukrainian produce stood at the border with the Crimea.
The intention to shorten the supply of produce to the peninsula from continental Ukraine sounded from the Crimean government already in the beginning of April. Though the first step was made by the Ukrainian producers, in fear for the integrity of their goods in the Crimea, which at the moment presented itself as a “hotspot” of sorts. “Ukrtsukor” was the first to decide to suspend supplies.
Later, the Russian government implemented a ban on Ukrainian pork. Last week, information appeared that the Crimean border workers have stopped letting in transport with any produce from Ukraine.
“We were driving from Kherson with our family. While we were going through the Crimean customs, we saw a lot of big trucks standing alongside the road,” said Crimean, citizen of Dzhankoi Oleg Seliuk to FaceNews. “The drivers say that they are standing here since May 17th. Many can’t take it – they go back.”
This information was confirmed to FaceNews correspondent Agniya Grabovska by the press service of the National Border Service of Ukraine.
“It is true, at the Crimean border, they are not letting live cattle (cows, calfs, pigs), as well as meat, dairy products, chicken eggs and many other things to the peninsula.”
The border workers do not present the documents which prohibit the import of Ukrainian goods to the peninsula.
The Head State Sanitary Doctor of the Republic of the Crimea and Sevastopol Nataliya Penkovskaya called the information regarding the prohibition on import of Ukrainian goods to the Crimea “ungrounded rumours” in an interview to FaceNews:
“There is a ban on certain produce only, which is prohibited from entering Russia. These include the produce of Roshen factory (belonging to Petro Poroshenko – editors),” commented Penkovskaya.
However there have been interruptions in supplies of Ukrainian goods to the Crimea. As FaceNews has discovered, the main reason as to why the Ukrainian trucks were stopped at the border with the peninsula was the lack of necessary certification for the goods from the continent. Such certification is necessary when importing product to the territory of the Russian Federation. On the initiative of the Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Supervision and the Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Rights Protection and Human Welfare, they started demanding the certificates from the Ukrainian supplies, who have traded with the Crimea before and are not aware of the new rules yet.
Prices are increasing because of the interruptions.
The interruptions stimulate the retail prices. This situation is beneficial for the Russian suppliers. Before, their goods, for the delivery of which more time and money is needed, were not competitive. Dairy products in the Crimea, imported from Ukraine, cost 40-50% less than the Russian analogue. However after they started stopping the goods at the border, the prices on the leftover “stocks” of the Ukrainian dairy products became as high as the Russian ones.
An artificial deficit of Ukrainian goods was created in the Crimea.
Speaking of which, it is not easy for Russian business owners to “feed” the Crimea. The delivery of goods to the peninsula are an expensive affair, not only financially. The passing ability of the ferry in Kerch is several times lower than necessary. The produce takes several times longer to get to the consumer.
Overall, Ukrainian produce from the continent constitutes 80% of the selection in the shops of the peninsula, even as of today. Crimean production is only able to feed 2%…
It is so far difficult to completely replace the goods for Russian ones – because of the problems with delivery their price often grows 50%. The Crimea is slowly but surely turning into Sochi. However, not in the aspect of resort development, but in the issue of high prices on retail goods and services.
The selection of the Crimean shops is waning. It is sufficient to take a walk around the local shops to make sure. The decrease is noticeable on shelves with potable water, marinades and canned vegetables. The supply in household chemicals and gastronomy departments is scarce. There is only produce of Crimean producers, such as “Krimmoloko” and “Krimskiy Molochnik” in the dairy department. However the price has started to “bite” – a litre of milk costs about 14-15 UAH.
The emptiness of the confectionary department is depressing. “We are awaiting Russian candy and biscuits. It seems they will import from Krasnodar. I cannot say whether they are tasty or not – we haven’t tried them yet,” say the shop keepers. They cannot say anything about the cost of the future goods either. They presume they will be more expensive than the Ukrainian ones.
The situation with meat is as complicated in the Crimea. A kilogram of meat or pork loin can be bought for 100 UAH.
The most palpable is the deficit of sunflower seed oil. In April the Minister of Agrarian Policies and Food of the Crimea Nikolai Poliushkin stated: “There is nowhere to process sunflower seeds in the Crimea. The factories that are located on the territory of the peninsula do not produce oil in industrial quantitates. It’s the same with the production of sugar and dairy produce, as the republic cannot provide the demand for these goods 100%.”
According to predictions, soon the rise in prices will affect another type of produce – alcohol and cigarettes. Market experts think that in the nearest future a bottle of the least expensive vodka will cost about 60 UAH (now it’s about 38-45 UAH).
Meanwhile Russian “merchants” from Krasnodar region have started coming to the territory of the peninsula more frequently, those that buy beer, vodka, champagne, dairy and meat products in the Crimea by the crate.
“They are ‘digging’ everything out of our supermarkets in crates, carts. They are saying that they have to take as much as possible, as soon in the Crimea the goods will be as expensive as in Russia,” said citizen of Kerch Tatyana Polevaya to FaceNews after a personal conversation with a family of “merchants” from Moscow.
“We are waiting for Chinese chocolate and cocoa.”
Closer to May 22nd, it became obvious that Russia has been unable to “feed” the peninsula alone, therefore in Moscow the decision was made to temporarily return Ukrainian goods to the shelves.
The Federal Service postponed the ban on import of any Ukrainian produce to the territory of the peninsula, including Ukrainian dairy, until July 1st. The food security of the peninsula was under threat, therefore the Service decided to mellow down its demands. This was reported to FaceNews by a source in the service.
The information is confirmed in the Ministry of Agrarian Policies of the Crimea as well. Speaking of which, they said here that it would have been difficult to adhere to the demands of the Russian services. As the peninsula still does not have a customs point in the north of the Crimea, it is impossible to fully check the goods coming from Ukraine. Only phytosanitars and vets conducting superficial checks are working on location.
“Before we equip a customs point, the goods will be imported with taxes or payments,” noted the Minister of the Agrarian Institution Nikolai Poliushkin.
The government of the annex Crimea has also come up with a way to eliminate the deficit of confectionary goods, in particular chocolate and cocoa. They are planning to import them from China.
“We only have one confectionary factory and small businesses, who are unable to fully stock the market with confectionary goods. Nature does not tolerate emptiness, and commerce as well,” said the minister to FaceNews.
Two instances remain unclear in this whole story with the goods supplies to the Crimea: what will change for Ukrainian producers on July 1st and when “long-awaited” Russian goods are going to be imported to the peninsula. The local officials still do not want to talk about this.
Translated by Mariya Shcherbinina