No more cosmopolitanism: Russians feel the prick of cultural and economic rifts | Russia

trip to the mall Russia The experience today is different than it was just a few short months ago.

“When I had my first child, I had all these options. Mothercare, Zara, you name it,” said architect Evgenia Marsheva, 33. But when she went to Moscow to shop for her newborn this month, many of the big retail brands had closed their doors.

“Right now, I can only find very cheap or extremely expensive Russian products. My parents had limited options in Soviet times. I never thought I’d be back.”

Three months after the war ended, Russia has become the most sanctioned country in the world, with nearly 1,000 foreign brands — most of them voluntary — having scaled back operations there, according to statistics. Record Held by the Yale School of Management.Corporate exodus continues this week as McDonald’s officially opens Announce It will leave Russia after three years.

Helped by soaring oil and gas export prices, the Kremlin has so far been able to continue funding its war effort, with the country spending as much as $300m (£240m) a day on defence last month, double what it was in the pre-war period , according to the Ministry of Finance dataMeanwhile, capital controls imposed by Russia in late February to protect its financial sector have made the ruble the world’s most important currency. best performing currency.

For many in Moscow and other Russian cities, however, the country’s growing political and economic isolation is directly affecting their livelihoods.

“Every step on the production line has been a struggle since the conflict began,” said Vladimir Kukushkin, director of a printing company in Yekaterinburg, Russia’s fourth-largest city.

Kukushkin complained that he had to find new ways to design his products after Adobe announced that its software would not be available in Russia, and that rising prices for ink and paper took a toll on his business further pressure.

“My business is also difficult to promote because Instagram and Facebook are blocked. These may seem like small things, but they do add up,” he said.

After Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, the Kremlin had some success. import substitution driveespecially to boost their domestic agricultural production, the owners of two restaurants in Moscow say they have had no problems getting their products since the war began.

However, Maria Shagina, a researcher at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said the current exodus of businesses has brought new focus to the country’s failure to produce consumer goods that many Russians have become accustomed to.

“The Russian economy is still heavily dependent on imports. For example, 90% of bakeries in Russia use imported equipment, mainly European equipment. A drop in imports will have a huge impact on existing domestic products,” she said.

A closed McDonald's restaurant in Moscow.
A closed McDonald’s restaurant in Moscow. Photo: Evgenia Novozhenina/Reuters

Sagina added that it is especially difficult for Russian companies to replace foreign technology products and microchips. Russia’s efforts to replicate banned social media platforms have been ridiculed, while sanctions have sent the auto industry back to the 1980s, where new cars are no longer legally required to have airbags and cannot now be imported from the West.

Senator Andrei Klishas of Putin’s ruling United Russia party, who has publicly acknowledged the country’s efforts to replace products, said this week that the country’s import substitution program had “completely failed.”

Recent economic data have further pointed to signs of stress across the economy.

Russia’s economy is expected to contract by 8% to 12% in 2022, according to official estimates.Auto sales, a gauge experts often use to gauge economic sentiment, fell nearly 80 percent in April, the largest drop on record. Meanwhile, the country central bank Inflation is forecast to be between 18% and 23% this year.

In a recent survey by the independent Levada Center, 85% of Russians surveyed said now is a bad time to buy in bulk, the highest level in more than a decade, while more than 60% said They have no savings.

“The government has created a false sense of stability. But in the long run, it’s bad,” Shagina said.

While slow sanctions may not force Vladimir Putin to change his actions UkraineShe said pressure on the Kremlin would rise “dramatically” if the EU continued its plan to decouple from Russian oil and gas.

“As long as Russia gets revenue from gas and oil, it can sustain the war. It would be a huge blow to the Kremlin to lose that cash cow.”

While economists and businesses warn of a looming recession in the country, some Muscovites lament the brokenhearted cultural bond Economic losses that go hand in hand with the West.

“Cultural isolation is probably more terrifying to me than economic isolation,” said Katya Fedorova, a former fashion editor who now runs a widely read lifestyle and fashion blog on Telegram.

Disney, Warner, Sony and other studios have stopped showing films in Russia, and Moscow cinemas are now reruns of old Hollywood films and premieres of Chinese action films.

“We’ll be lucky if we can hold out until the fall without closing. People simply don’t want to see The Wolf of Wall Street a fifth time. .

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Metropolis caused an uproar in 1994 when it became the first international women’s magazine to be published in post-Soviet Russia, a symbolic move that forced the magazine to be forced after Hearst revoked the magazine’s Russian license. Renamed “The Voice”. .

“I remember spending summers in Moscow, jumping from the Juergen Teller exhibition to the Murakami exhibition, dancing at festivals with international line-ups that rivaled the best concerts in Europe,” recalls Fedorova. When she takes Western fashion executives around town, they marvel and comment on how “modern and vibrant” the city is.

“That Moscow is gone now,” she sighed.

This article was revised on May 21, 2022 to clarify that Cosmopolitan is changing the name of its magazine in Russia to The Voice instead of Cosmagazine as previously mentioned.

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