EDITORIAL: Russians pay the “Impossible” Price

EDITORIAL

Russians pay the “Impossible” Price

The Russian website Slon.ru (Russian language link, hat tip Russia! magazine) recently conducted a survey of IKEA prices, surveying the same list of 32 items in 28 different countries.  It then rank-ordered the countries to see which one had the most expensive bill at checkout.

Vladimir Putin’s Russia came in at #3.  Only two countries in the whole world are forced to pay more for IKEA home furnishings than Russia (Japan, where everything costs more, and Australia, where shipping costs are prohibitive, topped Russia).

Where are IKEA goods cheapest?  The United States of America.

And let’s be clear:  In recent months the Russian national currency has been soaring in value, which should make imported goods like those from Sweden’s IKEA much cheaper for Russians than in places where such is not occurring.  Yet Russian’s don’t see any benefit from their inflated currency, and yet the still pay the horrible price of having domestic goods become much more expensive on world markets. Russia’s reputation for producing shoddy garbage makes such goods, of course, toxic poison among world consumers.

The reason Russians pay so much more is obvious:  Corruption.  Not long ago, IKEA was talking openly about pulling up stakes and leaving the Russian market entirely because of rampaging bribery and harassment from Russian officials.  Such costs, of course, are passed along to consumers, right along with the stomach-churning costs of Russian inefficiency and laziness.

These are the predictable results of allowing your country to be ruled by the KGB. In our lead editorial, we show how the Putin regime has failed to come to grips with the devastating problem of maternal mortality in Russia, and at the other end of the spectrum Russians are being forced to pay far more than almost anybody else for basic consumer items imported from abroad. Their only alternative is shoddy domestic production of interest to nobody except suckers.

And let’s be clear:  Russian people deserve no sympathy whatsoever for this dire plight, which they have brought upon themselves with their insane and irresponsible handing of power to a clan of KGB thugs.  If Russians do not rouse themselves from their drunken national stupor but soon, they will once again see their nation collapse into a heap of fetid, humiliating failure.

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14 responses to “EDITORIAL: Russians pay the “Impossible” Price

  1. I think you’re a bit too harsh on the Russian people, I don’t think you have the right to pass judgements like that on the Russian people. For one we did not hand over power to the KGB, the KGB just took it without asking anyone, the system of government that exists in Russia today is a self perpetuating catastrophe that’s been in existence for centuries, the names and plaques have changed and been replaced over time but the essence has remained the same from the Tsarist times, and it’s not easy to do something from within especially with the amount of brainwashing that we’re bombarded with every day, when you dare to have a dissenting opinion you’re almost invariably left in isolation, because the majority just watch TV and believe whatever is proclaimed on there. It’s like in Running Man, what if everything the mass media tell you is a lie and you know no better. So please stop acting a self righteous prick, chances are if you’d been born and brought up in Russia you’d end up a brainwashed drone like 80% of the people here.

    LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS:

    You’re simply incorrect. Russians VOTED for Putin the KGB spy TWICE and then they elected his hand-picked successor. Every opinion poll shows overwhelming support for Putin, and almost no financial support is offered by Russians to opposition leaders like Nemtsov and Kozlovsky. In Stalin’s time, Russians informed on their neighbors rather than risking their lives for freedom, and now they are doing just the same. They are turning their backs as Putin recreates the USSR, condemning their children to a life of neo-Soviet horror. Maybe you have so little respect for them as to believe they can do no better, but we disagree.

    • Igor does have a point.

      It is very hard to break out of a cycle like that of Russian politics, and I do think that there are a lot of very good Russians, just like Igor.

      The problem is that if they try and so something they are:

      1. Beaten by OMON and imprisoned.

      2. Sent to prison on trumped up charges.

      3. Killed.

      4. Keep silent from the not unreasonable fear of being killed or imprisoned.

      5. Keep silent because they feel that they cannot do anything to change the situation.

      In reality I feel that western, and particularly EU leaders are failing people like Igor by putting “good relations” with Putin and his clique ahead of the rights and aspirations of people like Igor.

      In short they are pandering to people like RTR.

      • thanks for your support Andrew, just wanted to add that this system of government it also creates a kind of warped mentality in people, once you succumb to it it’s like a mental condition or like being in a sect, the symptoms include yearning for a strong leader, gullibility, willingness to be manipulated, strong emotional responses to dissenting opinions. And it’s not just with OMON, sometimes in conversations with ordinary people if you suggest something that deviates from the official party line, instead of debating the issue people here will often just immediately brand you a traitor and a Jew and say things like, ‘under Stalin you’d have been shot long ago’ in a tone of voice that suggests it would have been a good thing. But it’s a disease and even these people do deserve sympathy because they don’t know better. If your computer keeps crashing on you and you know it’s a software bug that’s causing it you don’t go and throw out the hardware you just install different, better software on it.

        • I see you point, Igor. I a nutshell, it seems to be “Russians live wretched live is a wretched country because they don’t know any better.” Fair enough, but this begs a question to be asked. Who do you think is going to make it better for the Russians? Are they waiting for some savior to come from Mars or something?

          Almost every country in the world (except very very few) used to be a dictatorship or an absolute monarchy of one sort or another. And yet the people freed themselves and made it better, at least in the Western world and Japan.

          Why wouldn’t Russians do the same or at least try? I understand they are bombarded by propaganda and the like, but still, don’t they have brains and eyes to see the situation realistically? You are a Russian living in Russia, and you see what’s going on, why couldn’t the rest of then do the same? Does it require some kind of superhuman perception to understand that the modern day Russia is really nothing but a cesspool?

          So, perhaps there will not be any improvement until this and maybe next generation or two died off. The generation after that will be tantamount to that new hardware you are talking about.

          To install new software (I gather you meant a new government) is not enough. The government is always reflective of the population at large, and so there is no place selling this new software .

          • ‘Who do you think is going to make it better for the Russians? Are they waiting for some savior to come from Mars or something?’

            You may find it surprising but that’s exactly the attitude a lot of people here have to this day, they’re still waiting for that strong leader, the ‘master’ as some people call ‘him’ to come along and set things right for them. It’s some kind of a stupid irrational dream that’s probably survived from the time of serfdom when the fortunes of ordinary people depended to a large extend on whether they ended up with a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’ master.

            ‘Almost every country in the world (except very very few) used to be a dictatorship or an absolute monarchy of one sort or another. And yet the people freed themselves and made it better, at least in the Western world and Japan.’

            True but these things don’t happen overnight. Many countries with old and deeply ingrained monarchic traditions had to live through major military defeats and set on the straight and narrow by the victors before any sort of a meaningful democracy could be established there. Russia was rather unlucky in that when it came close to national disintegration in the early 20th century it was the Communists who seized power here, rather that some more moderate and democratic group.

            By new software I meant the prevailing mentality of the nation, the way people tend to see things in generally. At the moment the prevailing view among the people seems to be that a ‘strong leader’ is needed who would come and do things for them, there is a strong belief in a big government and all that comes along with it. These view are probably not as widespread today as they were in the late 1990′s for instance, after all after experiencing first hand a big government that taxes you and extorts bribes from you but does nothing in return, more and more people, especially in the business community, are finally beginning to realise that unless they start doing something about the situation nobody else will do it for them. I think you’re right to a degree in that the government is to some extent reflective of the people, and therefore it’s a symptom not the disease and metaphorically speaking a result of ‘running the wrong kind of software’ rather than software itself.
            As for waiting for generations for things to change, you know, ironically, this sort of thinking is rather popular among some public intellectuals here, but imho it’s bull, unless this generation starts to actively do something to change the situation and themselves, all the future generations will simply inherit this same warped ‘strong leader’ mentality and Russia’s plight will continue ad infinitum.

            As for superhuman perception; well I honestly don’t know why some people won’t see things that appear to be so obvious, or why they will simply take whatever they’re told at face value.

  2. Francis Smyth-Beresford

    Why is it acceptable to excuse the cost of consumer goods in Japan by simply saying “it’s where everything costs more”? Why should the same not be true of Russia?

    In your previous comment, you point out that every public opinion poll shows overwhelming support for Putin. Perhaps those people have confidence that his leadership is more likely to result in better living conditions for them than that of Nemtsov or Kozlovsky. In any case, that’s their choice. Why is it the people’s choice is only acclaimed in the West when they choose the pro-American candidate, as happened in the case of Yushchenko? Yushchenko had his ass handed to him by his own electorate this year – does that mean Ukrainians deserve whatever happens to them after this? If their decision brings on a “dire plight”, would you argue they deserve “no sympathy whatsoever”?

    IKEA’s shipping rates are prohibitively expensive just about everywhere except in the U.S., and that is because the U.S. has 37 stores while Russia has only 12. There are several websites dedicated to complaints about IKEA’s shipping costs, which point out customers will drive more than 4 hours to carry back a piece of merchandise rather than have it shipped. That’s not often practical in Russia, if you don’t live in or near a large city.

    Neither of the executives fired in the recent corruption case is Russian.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/16/business/global/16ikea.html

    • Why is it possible for you to ignore the fact that NINTY PERCENT OF THE WORLD’S COUNTRIES PAY LESS THAN RUSSIA?

      Why is it possible for you to ignore the fact that RUSSIA’S PER CAPITA INCOME IS A TINY FRACTION OF JAPAN’S?

      Why is it possible for you to ignore the fact that THIS BLOG IS ABOUT RUSSIA NOT JAPAN?

      Why is it possible for you to ignore the fact that THIS INFORMATION COMES FROM A RUSSIAN WEBSITE?

      We have not suggested it is a good thing that Japan is expensive. But Japan is a country full of RICH PEOPLE who can AFFORD expense. Russia isn’t, you braying jackass. THE RUSSIAN PRESS understands how Russians are being cheated and THEY ARE THE ONES who first raised this issue.

      The fact that you can so blithely ignore Russia’s horrible plight with pathetic neo-Soviet rationalizations of failure just goes to prove how little you really care about the people of Russia.

  3. Foreign firms pledge not to give bribes in Russia

    By Konstantin Rozhnov
    Business reporter, BBC News

    Dozens of international firms doing business in Russia have pledged not to offer bribes, in a move aimed at fighting corruption collectively

    The accord, signed at an official ceremony in Moscow, was initiated by the companies, not the Kremlin, said the Russian-German Chamber of Commerce.
    Anti-corruption group Transparency International has said bribery in Russia is worth $300bn (£195bn) a year.
    Two recent bribery scandals in Russia have involved foreign firms.

    Forced to bribe

    Mr Harms said that German companies doing business in Russia were the first to lay down the collective measures against corruption.

    He admitted that the task of tackling corruption in Russia was a difficult one, but said that it could be achieved “in the long run”.
    Elena Panfilova, head of Transparency International in Russia, said that the anti-bribery agreement was “good rather than bad”.
    She added, however, that any company working in Russia could find itself in a situation when it did not want to give bribes but was forced to do so if it wanted to carry on doing business. The agreement would not solve situations such as these, she said.
    Robert Mitchell, head of enhanced due diligence for Europe, Middle East and Africa at risk specialist World-Check, said that governments were responsible for dealing with the problem of corrupt officials.
    “They [governments] have to practice what they preach,” he said.
    Mr Mitchell added that the way to try to solve the problem in Russia was to follow in the footsteps of western countries and blacklist individuals and companies who were responsible for receiving bribes.

    Different traditions

    Traditions different from those in Russia, as well as tougher laws in their home markets, could be the reason why, according to Mr Harms, foreign companies have been much more eager to join the anti-bribery initiative than Russian firms.
    Several corruption scandals involving international companies working in Russia became public not as a result of Russian officials’ moves, but after prosecutors in Western countries took action.
    “Western companies think that even if things remain hidden in Russia, they will be uncovered at home,” said Ms Panfilova.
    “In Russia, it is a different story.”
    Most experts agree that foreign companies’ readiness not to offer bribes in Russia is a good sign, but it will not be enough to eradicate corruption any time soon.
    Mr Harms believes that this time the companies signing the agreement have managed to come up with a mechanism to fight corruption on day-to-day basis.
    But critics say it is not yet clear whether declarations of intention will be followed by effective actions.
    History shows that in terms of successfully fighting corruption in Russia, not a lot has been achieved so far.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/8632240.stm

  4. So, Andrew(I disregard the stupid rant of Franciswhatever) in all your comments here you practically confirm what LR said about russian people in the post. Russians prefer to be brainwashed, yearn for a strong leader and savior who will deliver them to paradise. Enough said. Let them live with their slave mentality.

    • you people seem to underestimate the power of brainwashing, when you’ve been brainwashed since early childhood you don’t have any real choice.

      As for elections, the issue touched upon by LR, at least in the past decades there have been no real elections in Russia, the results have almost invariably been falsified, and that on top of blatant violations in the run up when Putin and later Medvedev were given all the air time and all the media support while their contenders had to fight off false charges that the signatures they’d collected to support their nominations were fake.
      Prior to the parliamentary elections in 2002, I believe it was, some reporter asked Solzhenitsin if he was going to vote in the upcoming elections, to which Solzhenitsin replied, ‘elections, what elections, when there are real elections in Russia I will certainly vote in them but I won’t participate in this farce they’re putting on now’

  5. All things considered I think it best that Russia be dirt poor. They will be less able to develop modern weapons. The faster they run out of oil the better for the neighborhood. It is too bad because they are nice looking people.

    • Russia’s been dirt poor throughout its history and all this time it’s been a menace to its neighbors, this however has primarily applied to those neighbors whom Russia’s considered to be within its traditional ‘sphere of influence’. However, the point is, that Russia leadership has always been prepared to starve and exploit its own population in ways unheard of in the west to achieve its geopolitical ends. Think back to the USSR, especially during the so called industrialization in the 1930′s and then after the second world war, Stalin never had any qualms about brutally exploiting the people by essentially enslaving them in collective farms and labor camps, which allowed him to have a huge standing army, develop adequate weapons (if necessary by stealing the technologies from the west and sometimes directly copying them) and be a menace to its neighbors. And he wasn’t the only Russian leader to have done that. Take Peter I, perhaps the most admired Tsar in the official Russian history, the guy was a megalomaniac who wanted to make Russia into a European power to be reckoned with and he achieved that goal even though the ordinary Russian people continued to exist in abject poverty. Russian leaders have always been more concerned with making sure ‘Russia is respected’ by other nations, which to them means the same as ‘feared’, rather than with the welfare of their own population.
      Imho, ideally the best solution would be if Russia finally became a ‘normal’ country with a democratically elected government controlled by the people and concerned primarily with domestic issues rather than with maintaining at all costs an image of a ‘feared’ superpower in the global arena. But for that to happen a change of thinking must first occur in the minds of the Russian people.
      Theoretically if people can be programmed one way then they can also be programmed in a different way, i.e. the very same docility that allows the Russian government to brainwash Russians into submission can also be used to ‘open their eyes’ and change their perspective. One approach could be to try and tell them the truth by using whatever communications channels are available. Here the problem is that as recent surveys indicate only about 20% of the Russian population use the Internet on a regular basis, but still it’s better than zero, the word could then spread from them. However, it has to be noted, that you can’t hope to change people by simply proclaiming how much you despise them and how they deserve no sympathy and how they must be kept dirt poor to minimize the threat to their neighbors, they’re already being treated like crap by their own government and by each other as well, if the only alternative they’re offered is being treated like crap by the other nations, then why should they bother? It would only make sense to choose the devil you know. If you want a change to be effected you’ve got to give people a way out, you can’t simply say, you’re scum you deserve to die, then they’ve left with no other option than to side with whatever crooked and corrupt government they have as they at least have sympathetic rhetorics.
      Btw, quite a few historians that studied the initial reactions of the Russian population to the German invasion in 1941 now believe that it was Hitler’s insane Plan Ost that lost him his Eastern campaign and ultimately the war and that had he treated the Russians in the occupied territories as human beings (and the Jews for that matter too), the majority of the population would have supported him in his effort to crush the Communists. Too bad the man was crazy and to him his own warped ideas about racial supremacy, Lebenzraum and his own prejudices against the Slavs seemed more important and more real than the reality itself.

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