Treating food like an inmate: the sign on the cell says "Space for holding detained foodstaffs." (Image: RIA Novosti)
A measure of Moscow’s tone deafness or perhaps of the callous disregard by elites in the capital of anything that affects others but not themselves is provided by what a “Nezavisimaya gazeta” article today is the opinion of all the members of the Russian Duma the paper surveys that “the dissatisfaction of Russians will be limited to the Internet.”
Their views are reported by the paper’s Darya Garmonenko, who says that Duma deputies may disagree on other issues, they are united in that assessment and “do not see a danger in the petitions against the destruction of sanctioned products” or public demonstrations against what the Putin regime is doing.
The parliamentarians may be right about the expression of popular anger – the center retains the forces to suppress or ignore those who oppose it – but it is clearly wrong that this action will leave Russians unmoved given their concern for justice, a much-ballyhooed quality of that nation according to the Kremlin itself.
Consequently, while the online circus about this counterproductive action may quiet after a few days and while the increasingly censorious Kremlin may keep coverage of what is happening to a bare minimum, it is hard not to believe that Russians will remember that the Kremlin has chosen to destroy food that they might otherwise have been able to eat.
Indeed, one can think of few actions Putin could take that Russians, given their culture, their history, and their current difficult situation, would find harder to understand that this, especially since as many commentators have pointed out, those who took this decision almost certainly were well-fed, and likely well-fed on the foreign food products they’re depriving others.
Anyone who thinks otherwise should start by considering the comprehensive survey of Russian complaints online offered under the headline “Putin’s Crematorias: Social Networks Make Fun of the Destruction of Products in Russia.“
Among the most vivid is a picture showing Putin carrying Russia through the flames away from a cheese, a cartoon showing imprisoned foods worried that “tomorrow they are taking us to the ovens,” a suggestion that the best way to eat the banned foods is to travel abroad, and a complaint about Putin for failing to remember his ancestors who lived through the blockade.
Finally, in what may be the most devastating comment of all, Apostrophe quotes from one blogger the following: “When they destroyed foodstuffs, I didn’t say anything. When they began to destroy those who consumed them, it was too late,” an echo of Pastor Niemoeller’s observation about what happened in Nazi Germany.
When they destroyed foodstuffs, I didn’t say anything. When they began to destroy those who consumed them, it was too late.
From the flood of reports and comments about what Putin is doing, the following five are among those particularly worthy of attention:
- A collection of nine cartoons headed by a redrawing of the famous picture of Ivan the Terrible and the son he has just murdered entitled “Ivan the Terrible Kills His Own Cheese.”
- Vitaly Portnikov’s suggestion that the burning of cheese at the Russian border is a symbol of Russia’s return to medieval times when the bonfire was at the center of public life.
- A Regnum report that Russia can’t do without the sanctioned products and the destruction of a small share of them on the borders will not be sufficient to keep them off the shelves in Moscow at least.
- A view that the destruction of food will only increase the share of Russians who believe that still worse times are ahead.
- And finally a Ukrainian comment that this is the latest extension of the word “sacred” for Russians. First, there were “sacred” places like Crimea; then a “sacred” war; and now, “sacred” food.