Postcard from Krasnodar: how to live in Russia in the era of Western sanctions? (People's World, USA)

Russia — This was my first trip to Russia. Called me for a long time, but to accept the invitation I could not before. In College, I spent a lot of hours to study the Russian language, but since then it has been 45 years, and then I became a lawyer and made a career. So this trip is long overdue.

there Were a lot of surprises and pleasant surprises. For a start, Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport. Very modern. Red square was smaller than in the pictures. But Krasnodar were a very bright, Sunny, southern city, on every corner something to build. Similar to Florida, just next to the Crimea, Sochi and the Black sea. Russia was not as dark as I expected. We even had a barbecue.

Much as I thought, similar to the United States. Even people like Americans, although, of course, all speak in Russian. No bleak scenes with sullen, suspicious person. Around billboards, traffic jams and neon signs, as in any consumer society. On “a gas station posing as a country”, as expressed by the late Senator John McCain (John McCain), does not look like.

Our trip was organized by the Center of civil initiatives, the organization associated with “rotary international” and arranges this trip each year. The group has recruited 48 people of all backgrounds, some were already in Russia. In Moscow, we listened to a lecture about Russian politics, history and Finance. It lasted five days. Then looked at other cities. We broke into groups and divided the twenty-one city. Four went to Krasnodar. After Krasnodar we flew to St. Petersburg, and the last five days spent together.

Moscow — the gateway to Russia, a popular place for tourists. In the amazingly beautiful Moscow metro, where tickets cost less paticantonica. However, when we flew and flew, it seemed that Moscow was covered with a huge gray umbrella of smog. The city has many public transport, but also a lot of cars, hence the huge traffic jams and bad air.

Another thing is Saint Petersburg. It is the most beautiful city of Russia, is dazzling and the whole historic. Here, unfolding the major events of the Russian revolution, and it’s rightly world-famous Hermitage Museum. The city is teeming with tourists, mostly Germans and Chinese. In St. Petersburg it is easier to understand and feel the great suffering of the Russians in the Great Patriotic war (as they called the Second world). On the other hand, some of the St. Petersburg taxi drivers left a bad impression.

London is not as historic as St. Petersburg, but not as crowded and very welcoming. The air is clean, and always a gentle breeze. Next to the Black sea and life abounds. There I spoke Russian most of all.

Russian greeted us warmly. With the Americans they interact with curiosity and want to know us better. They are educated and cultured, I want them to understand — and the more hospitality you can’t imagine. We were given two guides and interpreters, and in the hotel and in the city center, I spoke with other Russians. Other members of the group lived in private homes. From our conversation, it became clear how little we know about life in Russia.

I learned that, although there are a lot of posh houses and expensive cars, many live in poverty. As in America, teachers are paid little, young people are struggling to find a job you love, and the elderly have to hard because of the small pensions. With income inequality the Russians lost the greater part of the achievements of socialism, its benefits and social protection, and corruption, as we explainedNeely, everywhere. Therefore, many Russians are leaving, while others are nostalgic for the security and stability of the Soviet state.

London grows

Five days we rode around the city and met with business people, and all of them have their own business. They are real enthusiasts, and entrepreneurship is growing in Russia. Among other things we visited a company and even a state institution whose main goal is to help entrepreneurs and companies, including foreign ones, to start work and develop. They help licensed, direct to other professionals, arrange financing and training. When we were away from them, everything is bursting with people.

the Result is obvious. As in America, in Russia there is a gradual outflow of population to the South. Over the past ten years, the population of Krasnodar doubled. The whole city of towering construction cranes and the rise of new office buildings and homes. The city is expanding, building new businesses and shopping malls, on the streets of cork, but in the suburbs still broken roads with a track. The idea of downsizing, they do not seem inspired. One of the companies where we visited, is engaged in mapping services like Google Maps, they track the market. So, they said that in their area each month offers 1 400 new companies and 1 300 close.

Use of sanctions

Nobody expected, but at least part of this growth is due to European and us sanctions. We were told that when sanctions were introduced, Russia was heavily dependent on Europe in terms of food supply, Finance and industrial products. In 2008 about 45% of Russian products were imported from EEurope. Today, thanks to the intervention of the government, Russia has become a net exporter of wheat and chicken, and in Krasnodar with its mild climate and fertile land and all the agricultural boom. They are trying to diversify the economy through the visitor industry, but the basis continues to be agriculture and tourism.

the Contexttrade on the "Kuban fair" exhibition centre "Expograd South" in KrasnodarEurasianet: Krasnodar ready to accept immigrants?EurasiaNet03.06.2019 Russia under sanctions: manufacturers products stood up (iDnes)iDNES.cz08.08.2019 Die Welt: Russia benefits from sanctions СШАDie Welt11.02.2020 On the approach to the town are the endless fields. Where there were once farms, now a large farm. This is the breadbasket of Russia. Here the American food giant Cargill (Cargill) and other American and European manufacturers of agricultural machinery. And, for completeness, is widely represented manufacturer of genetically modified seeds “Monsanto” (Monsanto), as well as “roundup” (Roundup), “Philip Morris” (Philip Morris) and Bayer (Bayer).

Along with the growth of large agricultural enterprises, has felt the effect of the Ukraine. This region is adjacent to the East of Ukraine, and thanks to a new 17-kilometer bridge to the Crimea only a couple of hours drive away. In December, the Crimea was opened the main message. In Crimea, we are told, is also witnessing significant growth due to government investment. Built new airports, houses and roads, as well as a new terminal for cruise ships plying the Black sea. All the resources androdstva for the Crimean growth flowing through Krasnodar.

About the Crimea, we talked to the Crimeans and Russians from Eastern Ukraine. They consider themselves citizens of Russia, and without exception, flatly declared that the Crimea Ukraine will never — or only after another world war. It is not even discussed. Therefore, if the sense of Western sanctions is to force Russia to withdraw from Crimea, they are useless.

the Majority of Russian sanctions’m sorry, especially because of the atmosphere of hostility, but recognize that they had a beneficial effect on the country. Russia became self-sufficient, feeding itself itself manages their money. Public debt is not, and Russia itself is funding its development. Things do not stand still, and the government spared no effort.

the Main engine of economic development — the Federal government. In 1991 the privatization of state enterprises, however, many of them the government has left itself. Extractive industries, oil, gas and pipelines remain in state ownership. Metro, public transport and Railways too. Aeroflot is 51% state owned. In the banking sector is dominated by state-owned banks. In 1992, independent banks were more than 1 200. There were only 125. Most importantly, military companies and enterprises from security privatization is not touched. 65% of Russia’s GDP accounted for the state — mainly revenues from oil and gas, “benzokolonka” part of Russia. All this is enhanced with the obvious turn of Russia from Europe to China and the East.

In Moscow and St.-Petersburg a lot of Chinese guests Krasnodar are smaller. We talked a lot about joint ventures and projects China, and they will only continue. From Siberia to China has already built a gas pipeline with a thickness of half a meter. Built a large pipeline. Across the Amur river bridge, the first of its kind. China provides the 5G network throughout Russia and will soon start supplying railway and metrostroiteley technology. One high-speed railway in Russia is, and more will be coming soon.

the relationship, both governments have taken steps to move away from the dollar and withdrawing from international banking and financial system. It seems that sanctions only accelerate this process. Because of them, the flow of Western investment in Russia has dried up, but thanks to oil and gas pipelines and their relationship to the enormous Chinese market and its resources is not a problem. It will end, it is easy to anticipate. A good example of Krasnodar. Over the city the sun shines.


With the transition to a capitalist economy it is very unequal: there were oligarchs. At a meeting in Moscow, I learned about their appearance. Like corruption, is an important part of Russian way of life. According to the speakers, when the Communist party decided to curtail communism and begin the privatization of many state enterprises and banks had seized or bought by the people close to the leadership, for a nominal fee, if not for nothing. Employees of enterprises and people didn’t even ask.

If in Oz: yesterday’s official Communist party becomes a tycoon and an industrial tycoon, bought a house in London and Bank accounts in Zurich and Cyprus. The Bolsheviks and Lenin must be turning in his grave. Banks, companies and factories oligarchs, acquired not by hard work, not by ingenuity and enterprise. They took their cunning, greed and nepotism.

In Krasnodar, there are a few of their oligarchs. One of them owns the airport, which will not damage the overhaul. For such a bright, growing city, as Krasnodar, he’s kind of seedy. Still, this tycoon belongs to one of the two professional football clubs in the city and new stadium, big and beautiful. In Krasnodar two biggest football stadium of the professional level, but at least public transportation. One club would be quite enough.

According to one person from the American hedge Fund, most of their oligarchs to keep money abroad, own real estate there (maybe even in trump Tower?) and can on call to fly on a private plane. Although the claim was made that Vladimir Putin in the presidential chair at the time, put the oligarchs, relations with the Russian government, they have strained. They are not respected. Our source said, “a phone call and six hours to go”. This unpredictability is, apparently, also applies to foreign investors. The man from the American hedge Fund, who has worked here since the beginning, reported that they had lost all their investments, except one, and is now trying to sit quietly and not stick out.

Now everyone agrees that the significant political power of the oligarchs there. In those areas where you would normally run rich — media, banking and Finance in Russia hosted not the oligarchs. So, they don’t even have his political party, as we have in America. Over time this may change, and with it the future of Russia.

final Thoughts

Dear will Rogers (Will Rogers), having been in the Soviet Union back spoke the aphorism that Russia — “a country that no say is true”. It was 80 years ago, but true to this day. A big part of what writes about Russia by our press, for either the President or the army or any other topic where a lot of negative opinions and few facts. In addition, the Russian story — for example, its role in world war II and contribution to the victory over fascism — often distorted and downplayed. In the policy of Russia is still accepted to do the Scarecrow.

however, open my eyes and open my mind. My trip to Russia left many positive impressions. For example, I learned that Russia’s military budget is only one-fifteenth of the us, and last year, military spending decreased. I learned that Russia is stronger than all the world committed to the preservation of wildlife — both in total area and proportion of protected land. And so it was in 1917. Most importantly, we learned that the Russians seem well aware of the shortcomings of their country — the corruption, the oligarchs, bad roads, terribly cold winter — and talking about them without any hesitation. However, on the streets and in public places they clean and no homeless people and beggars — unlike the us, where their outrageous lot.

it seems that the Russians are convinced that the faults are slowly corrected, — except, perhaps, cold winters, and look to the future with optimism. They seem genuinely proud of their country and trying to improve her life. This is especially true of Krasnodar, where life and business flourish despite all the Western sanctions.

the new York times contain estimates of the solely foreign media and do not reflect the views of the editorial Board of the new York times.