Russian shops to limit food sales to counter black market

Russia’s government announced Sunday that retailers will limit sales of vital products to curb black market speculation and maintain affordability, as sanctions imposed in response to Moscow’s military foray into Ukraine began to bite.

Essential goods were purchased “in a volume manifestly bigger than necessary for private consumption (up to several tonnes) for subsequent resale,” the trade and industry ministry said over the weekend.

According to the ministry’s statement, trade organisations representing shops suggested that stores be allowed to limit the quantities of specific commodities offered to individuals at any given time.

The announcement stated that “the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Agriculture backed the initiative of trade organisations,” adding that the policy would be worked out by the organisations themselves.

Bread, rice, flour, eggs, and some meats and dairy items are among the essential foodstuffs whose prices are regulated by the government.

Since the Kremlin launched what it calls “a special military operation” in neighbouring Ukraine on Feb. 24, Western countries have slapped Moscow with a slew of financial and cultural sanctions.

In recent days, the Central Bank has taken unprecedented measures to support the faltering economy and the currency, including capital controls.

The falling ruble has brought back terrible memories of the country’s financial turmoil in the 1990s, when millions of Russians saw their savings vanish due to a depreciating currency and skyrocketing inflation.

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