Putin’s supermarket sweep
Russia’s one-man stimulus machine rolls on: The prime minister abruptly interrupted a meeting with senior retailers at the Moscow White House, the seat of the Russian government, to drag them on an impromptu visit to a nearby branch of the Perekrestok supermarket chain. triding angrily through the aisles with a retinue of glum executives in ...
Russia's one-man stimulus machine rolls on:
Russia’s one-man stimulus machine rolls on:
The prime minister abruptly interrupted a meeting with senior retailers at the Moscow White House, the seat of the Russian government, to drag them on an impromptu visit to a nearby branch of the Perekrestok supermarket chain.
triding angrily through the aisles with a retinue of glum executives in tow, Mr Putin came to a halt in the supermarket’s cold meat section and gesticulated towards a packet of sausages priced at just under £5.
Rounding on Yuri Kobaladze, the chain’s head of corporate relations, Mr Putin demanded: "Why do your sausages cost 240 roubles? Is that normal?" "But these are high quality sausages," Mr Kobaladze replied, looking crestfallen.
With a look of relief crossing his face, the executive spotted some cheaper sausages.
"Look, these ones are just 49 roubles," he said.
But the prime minister was not to be deterred. "Too expensive," he muttered, before conjuring up a price list from his pocket. "I can show you your mark up. Look at this kind of sausage. You’ve marked it up by 52 per cent." […]
Having primed his victim, Mr Putin moved in for the kill. Consulting his crib sheet, he pointed towards a packet of pork fillets.
"This is double the (cost) price," he said to Mr Kobaladze. "Is this normal?"
"Is 120 per cent a high mark up?" Mr Kobaladze responded timidly.
"Very high," the prime minister said.
"It will be lowered tomorrow," the executive replied.
Earlier this month, Putin flew to an industrial town to browbeat factory owners into paying workers back-pay. I see the appeal of Putin’s "good czar" strategy, but I wonder in the long term how wise it is to promote the idea that people are struggling just because powerful people are greedy. How long can it be before that anger is turned on the state?
Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating
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