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In a Russia at war, soaring prices are felt as elections approach

SREDNEURALSK, Russia, Nov 16 (Reuters) – For Darya Stepanova, a mother of two who lives in a small town east of the Ural Mountains, soaring prices for everything from baby food to diapers have forced his family to reduce their expenses. most treats and restaurant meals.

The Stepanov family is one of millions of Russian families who are having to cut back on their spending due to the significant changes forced on the Russian economy by the war in Ukraine and countless sanctions imposed by the West.

Stepanova, 34, with her five-year-old son and newborn, are trying to make ends meet on the 50,000 rubles ($550) a month that her husband Sergei earns. When she goes to stores in the snow, she inspects prices for bargains.

“I can see how everything has become more expensive over the last five years,” Stepanova told Reuters in her apartment in Sredneuralsk, a town on the shores of Lake Iset, about 25 km north of the city. of the Urals. from Yekaterinburg and 1,400 km (870 miles) east of Moscow.

“Before, you could easily buy food for a thousand rubles for three or four days, but now, when you go to the store, a thousand rubles is nothing – you can only buy food for daily needs , like milk, yogurt, bread and that’s it – your thousand is gone.

The price of baby milk has quadrupled in the five years since her first child, she said, while the price of strollers has tripled to 60,000 rubles. Prices of disposable diapers and baby food have at least doubled, she said.

The family’s income has not increased as much, while the ruble has fallen against the US dollar since February 2022, when President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into Ukraine, making imported goods more expensive in rubles.

“There is no more money for treats,” Stepanova said. “Sure, you can live without them, but life is less fun.”

As many families around the world struggle with rising prices, the peculiarities of Russia’s wartime economy have caused high inflation for millions of Russian voters in the run-up to the 2024 elections.

The family did not want to discuss politics, Ukraine or responsibility for the price rise. It is therefore not immediately clear what long-term impact the stricter conditions will have on voting in Russia.

Putin is expected to run in next year’s election, which would keep him in power until at least 2030.


The West has imposed what it calls the toughest sanctions ever on Russia in a bid to undermine its economy and force Putin to change course on Ukraine, but he has refused and has urged the West not to have fueled an economic crisis.

Russia, the world’s largest exporter of natural resources, continued to sell its oil on global markets and the government increased its military spending to a post-Soviet record while weapons production soared, as did salaries of contracted soldiers ready to fight.

The International Monetary Fund forecasts Russian growth of 2.2% this year – faster than that of the United States or the euro zone – although it has lowered its growth forecast for 2024 to 1.1%.

When Putin came to power in 1999, Russia’s nominal gross domestic product was just $210 billion after a decade of chaos and contraction, but by 2013 the economy had grown to a 2.3 trillions of dollars. Last year, nominal GDP was $2.2 trillion.

Overall inflation was 11.9% last year in Russia and this year the forecast is 7.0-7.5% – while at least 15.7 million people live below the threshold. poverty of 14,375 rubles ($157) per month, according to official statistics.

Igor Lipits, a Russian economist, said official Russian data on poverty levels was poor – as was the general state of the Russian economy – despite often optimistic announcements aimed at pleasing Kremlin leaders.

“The real situation is bad,” Lipits said, adding that he sees at least stagnation and a serious deterioration in economic health after the March presidential election. “A large part of the Russian population has very low wages.”

He said about 20 million people could be in or on the verge of poverty in Russia, that many were in debt to the Central Bank’s interest rates of 15% and that some economists believed the ruble could fall after the elections.

At a food market in the former imperial capital of St. Petersburg, Lyudmila said she and her friends had sought to cut back and search for discounts. She refused to give her middle name.

“What option do we have? Of course, we won’t die and we won’t cry – we’ll try to survive somehow.”

($1 = 91.4000 rubles)

Written by Guy Faulconbridge Edited by Alexandra Hudson

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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