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Putin's Rating Immune to Food Ban for Now

Published: August 8, 2014 (Issue # 1823)



  • According to Levada Center research, public opinion in Russia is conservative and only begins to react to events two or three weeks after they happen.
    Photo: Presidential Press Service / Kremlin.ru

While the ban on many food imports imposed by President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday has sparked fears of Soviet-era shortages among some sections of Russian society, political analysts told The St. Petersburg Times that it will have little effect on the level of support for the government among the public.

Following the publication Thursday of the list of banned products, pictures of empty shelves from Soviet times flooded Russian social networks and blogs, along with sardonic jokes about how in introducing the ban, Russia had demonstrated its care for its citizens' spiritual well-being by letting them choose from only two kinds of cheese, fish, meat and other products.

Despite widespread anger at the move to limit the availability of foreign food, this negative reaction is still limited to an exclusive and politically conscious audience that is already largely critical of the government anyway, according to Lev Gudkov, director of the independent Levada Center pollster.

"According to our research, public opinion in Russia is conservative and only begins to seriously react to events two or three weeks after they happen. The consequences of these decisions, as well as of sanctions overall, will only become visible in November," as people are more politically apathetic during the summer, Gudkov told The St. Petersburg Times in a phone interview.

Gudkov said he did not expect immediate drastic changes in public opinion as a result of the new measures imposed by the Kremlin.

The partial foreign food ban has brought to the fore painful memories of the late Soviet Union, when people stood in line for basic commodities such as bread, butter and oatmeal. A video of a "food funeral," an art performance in central Moscow in 1990 in which a mock funeral procession marched along the capital's main street to bemoan the lack of food in stores, went viral Thursday.

The potential disappearance of even a limited number of foreign-produced products from shelves has demonstrated to what extent memories or even phantom pains from the Soviet Union are alive in society, according to Nikolai Petrov, an analyst of Russian internal politics with the Higher School of Economics.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBA’s ongoing “Breakfast with the Director” series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at “Sounds of the Universe,” a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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