Russia has further intensified its offensive in Ukraine, targeting cities like Kiev and Kharkov, which has led the Europeans, urged to act by the Ukrainian president, to further tighten their sanctions, both economic and in sports or culture. Sanctions that are already having an effect on the psychology of Russians and on the state of the economy.
With RFI Moscow correspondent Anissa El Jabri.
Russian companies are now required to transfer 80% of their foreign currency in rubles, investors are prohibited from leaving the country by presidential decree and Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin threatened foreign companies on Tuesday, March 1: “Those who win in the end will be those who do not succumb to the slogans of foreign politicians, those who do not stop their projects in our country. Practice has shown that it is easy to leave a market, but it is much more difficult to return when the place has been occupied by competitors,” he said.
Some insist, however, on saying that nothing is happening, like this businesswoman found in front of the teller of one of the banks close to the State and sanctioned. With her face closed before the microphone of foreign journalists, she wants to tell her truth: “No, I’m not worried about anything. The economic situation is normal, everything is normal. Nothing has changed. I am the general manager of a company and everything is stable on our part. Russia will survive thanks to its economic power. Everything that Russia has, will stay. Russia is not a nation dependent on other countries,” he says.
“Every day the situation changes”
Actually, it’s true, there is no panic on the sunny streets and bright blue skies of winter. But there is tension in the air and sometimes even nervousness or anxiety. “The situation is really difficult. Everything is very bad. The economy is sinking. What do you want me to tell you… War is not an answer in 2022. Of course, the situation is getting worse every day, and right now everyone is worried. But I don’t think people should keep withdrawing that much cash. It makes the atmosphere worse and it doesn’t make the banks’ job easier,” says a disappointed passer-by.
“I am not a political scientist, I am a creative person and I work in a totally different sphere. PBut, like most ordinary people, I can’t make predictions. Every day the situation changes. Every day there is something new. Not even a politician can make predictions about what will happen tomorrow. We all live from day to day,” he adds.
“Nowadays everyone hates the Russians”
In particular, Russian life has already changed. Anastasia describes it well. She is an English teacher in Moscow and, for her, the consequences of the sanctions already form a long list that is palpable in all aspects of the daily life of this Muscovite accustomed to being very connected.
“I work online and sometimes the internet connection is very slow. Some of the servers we used to use don’t work with Russia anymore. So we have to change everything and work with other platforms. Also, today I tried to pay at a coffee shop with Apple Pay and it didn’t work. Yesterday it stopped working. Instagram is also increasingly blocked in Russia. I also look at the price of currencies like the dollar or the euro, and now we can see that we actually have to work twice as hard to earn the same amount of money, just to be able to go to Europe, for example. I’m not too sure it will be possible to travel there in the near future due to sanctions, and I have the impression that nowadays everyone hates Russians,” she laments.
Anxiety for a new world
Anastasia is very anxious, she has tears in her voice. She cannot project herself into a new world that is taking shape and that seems so dark to her. When Vladimir Putin took over the country, Russia was in the chaos of the 1990s and the fall of the USSR. It was he who restored stability, got salaries and pensions paid on time, and for that most Russians, especially those who lived through that period, remain grateful. That is also why many have turned a blind eye to his authoritarian drift in exchange for stability and economic growth. The impact of the sanctions could mean the breaking of this contract with the country.
Russians living abroad also fear for the future: “I have many fears about the sanctions that are going to affect and are already affecting Russia. The economy, which has not been working very well for a few years, is in danger of collapsing very quickly. I think the impact will be very, very lasting,” Anna, manager of a training organization in Paris, told RFI, for whom this war is “a very great tragedy, a huge catastrophe, totally unacceptable and inadmissible in the 21st century.”
“There is no more sport, we have seen that everything has been cancelled. There is no longer Russian culture abroad and for me this is really a tragedy. But there are other repercussions that we do not think about, such as children who had to go out for treatment. in the West, especially in Germany, and all these operations will be cancelled…”, he continues.
But what worries him most is the climate of hatred that is going to settle among the peoples: “It will also have an impact on the relations between Russians and Ukrainians, this climate of hatred that will undoubtedly be installed, and I am afraid it will be for several generations. The Ukrainians are going to hate all Russians, and this climate between the two brother peoples is, for me, perhaps the most serious of what is happening now”, concludes Anna.