Article by: Yana Polyanska
The government of Kyiv approved the decision to have Ukrainian supermarkets mark Russian goods using special labels. The initiator, Svoboda member Ruslan Andriyko, is convinced that Ukrainian businesses and regular Kyiv citizens support such marking. The main intent, Andriyko says, is to increase economic pressure on the aggressor country, which arms its troops using money it earns in Ukraine.
The economic boycott in Ukraine is becoming more forceful: henceforth the price tags on Russian goods will bear the label ‘Goods from the Russian Federation,’ or with the appropriate tricolor. Also the owners of supermarkets are offered to have separate shelves for Russian goods and identify them with a special sticker. This decision, initiated by Svoboda member Ruslan Andriyko, was already approved by the Kyiv City Council.
According to the politician, this is relevant for both the consumers and the state which supports Ukrainian businesses. Ruslan Andriyko told Radio Liberty: “Every cent we send to Russia is spent by Putin on weapons to kill our soldiers.”
Kyiv citizens support boycott of Russian goods – initiator
Andriyko says: he had consulted the owners of big supermarket chains and small business owners before, in order to see whether Kyivans would support the initiative of labeling. The member of the council assured that Kyiv citizens are united by war and have patriotic intentions.
“The people don’t want to buy Russian goods, in reality, in light of which Russian producers even resort of falsification: they replace bar codes, falsify labels, saying their product was not made in Russia. This testifies to the fact that they are suffering losses.”
Big supermarkets to be the first to mark Russian products
First and foremost, big retail chains will be subject to the decision, Andriyko said.
“The compliance with this decision does not overload the budget, does not cause the sellers losses. It is technically possible to do it in a day: just mark the products made in Russia with a flag or another appropriate label,” the member of the city council says.
Ruslan Andriyko notes: the city government understands that in practice the printing of such stickers will take more time for the supermarkets. Therefore, the headquarters for trade and everyday issues at the Kyiv City Administration gives the supermarkets a month, only after which they will start checking the shop stalls. Andriyko adds: there will be no fines, however, the city government “will insist firmly” and explain to the business owners that these stickers are their weapon against Russia. “I am convinced that this decision will be carried out without any repressions,” the member of the city council concluded.
Russia is watching the boycott in Ukraine and calculating losses
According to Andriyko, Russia is watching the economic boycott against its goods in Ukraine closely and calculating its losses.
“I even got a call from Rossiya TV channel saying ‘what will now happen, how will we live?’ So Russian journalists are interested in this project. And taking into account that the level of patriotism among Kyiv citizens is quite high, and it is a city with a population of three million, these local Kyiv sanctions will land a blow to the Russian economy,” Ruslan Andriyko assures.
Economic boycott of Russian goods has been going on for over six months
Civil initiative Vidsich marked Russian goods long before the initiative of the Kyiv government, however, they did it differently. Starting March of the current year, since Russia occupied Crimea, the activists had been conducting flash mobs near the gas stations, coffee places, supermarkets that sell Russian goods or belong to the neighboring country.
Giant global producers refuse to cooperate with Russia
Vidsich activist Kateryna Chepura explained that it is very difficult to research and calculate how much the Russian economy had lost overall because of the Ukrainian boycott.
“There is a huge number of goods which are both Russian and Ukrainian. Besides, many products are imported illegally and sold in shops without accounting,” says she.
However, Chepura notes, the economic boycott is definitely effective at it is easier to see how it works by watching the behavior of foreign giant producers on the market. In particular, she says, Italian confectioner Ferrero refused Russian products: before they would import sweets to Ukraine from this neighboring country, now they mostly do it through Poland.
She added that Lipton also stated they were ready to stop working with Russia. “And it is one of the most popular tea brands in Europe, so this is a huge export market,” the activist explains. Besides, supermarkets have been replacing Russian goods with domestically-produced ones more and more frequently, and lowering prices and setting up sales,” Chepura says.
Activist: marking will help identify Russian goods
Vidsich supports the initiative to label Russian goods as, according to Chepura, this will allow to inform Kyivans in an accessible and quick way. However, she notes that there should be control over the process, as some supermarkets tick the blue-and-yellow flag on Russian goods. To her mind, this is done to sell goods that are faring badly.
“A big number of goods don’t have Russian barcodes. And the people don’t really read these tiny digits on the packaging. Therefore if products are labeled, it will be very useful.”
Patriotism in every school, newspaper, TV channel?
Besides the point on marking Russian goods, the decision of the Kyiv City Council contains a number of other points. In particular, on the initiative of the Svoboda member, the Kyiv government proposes to state and communal media to introduce a segment called ‘Away with Russian Occupants!’ and broadcast liberation movement songs on state and communal TV and radio channels. Plus, conduct information meetings at educational institutions on the topic ‘Aggression against Ukraine is an instance of fascism and chauvinism.’
Social psychologist Viktor Pushkar cautions the city government to distinguish between informing and propaganda, even the pro-Ukrainian kind. In his opinion, what such broadcasts and lessons will become will depend on the institutions responsible for them.
“We already had the experience in the end of the 80’s, beginning of the 90’s, the amateurs engaged in propaganda. Instead of creating pro-Ukrainian moods, to my mind, they most likely discredited the ideas of nationalism and national democracy,” Pushkar notes.
According to Ruslan Andriyko, all the Kyiv City Council committees, starting with the Committee of Trade and ending with the Educational Committee, unanimously supported his initiative.