The Russian ruble has taken a massive hit over the last month. It’s currently trading at a new historic low of 40.06 rubles to the dollar. According to Bloomberg, “the ruble is sinking more than any other currency in the world.” And one place the inflation is being felt in grocery stores around the country.
The surge in food prices accelerated after Putin placed a ban in August on some imports from the U.S. and Europe in retaliation for the economic sanctions against Russia. The 17 percent annual rate of inflation on meat, for example, is up from 11 percent in July and follows a 3 percent decline in prices at the end of 2013. Overall food inflation has almost doubled to 11 percent from about 6 percent last year.
Inflation is certainly one place where Putin is vulnerable. If prices continue to soar it might put a dent in Putin’s astronomical popularity. But so far, Putin, who turned 62 on October 7, is not feeling any anger. Yet.
So far none of this has dented Putin’s popularity, which soared following his incursion into Ukraine. His approval rating rose to 86 percent in September from 65 percent in January, according to pollster Levada Center, which surveyed 1,600 people across Russia over four days.
Still, some Russians are wondering how long they can put up with the soaring prices. One customer, Galina Mityaeva, reported to Bloomberg:
“Every time I go to the store, food is more expensive,” Mityaeva said as she strolled through the grocery aisles on a recent afternoon. “People are angry right now. In the store lines, you can hear people complaining: ‘What can I afford to buy with 1,000 rubles?’”