Audio content: People in Moscow describing how how the economic crisis has affected them
Visual content: Various Russian citizens on the streets of Moscow
Through most of the 2000s the dollar-to-ruble exchange rate hovered around 30 rubles per dollar. Today the rate is 65 rubles to the dollar — which at least is an improvement on the high of 82 rubles attained in January 2016. The drastic devaluation of the ruble is one of the most visible aspects of Russia’s current “economic crisis,” the result of a combination of factors including the sanctions imposed on Russia after the annexation of Crimea and the worldwide drop in the price of oil. Of course, some are affected by the crisis more than others — see my earlier post on those who made the unfortunate decision to acquire mortgages denominated in dollars. Overall, life goes on. Goods imported from abroad, including raw materials and supplies that Russian businesses need, are now much more expensive, which hurts employment. In response, the government has been encouraging local industry to develop domestically produced replacements for foreign products – a phenomenon referred to with the neologism “импортозамещение” (“import replacement”). The ever-adaptable Телеканал Дождь (TV Rain) launched a new travel series called Ездим дома (“let’s travel at home”), encouraging its listeners to make the best of the fact that trips abroad are now much more expensive than they used to be. At least Russia itself offers an incredible expanse for exploration! The government seems to have avoided drastic cuts to the budget so far. In fact, from the domestic perspective, the devaluation of the ruble partially balances out the drop in oil prices, since the price of a barrel of oil is denominated in dollars, which can now be exchanged for many more rubles than previously. You’ll see many of these themes reflected in the video above, in which people respond to a question about how the crisis has hurt them. Some are quite concerned while others view the situation in a light-hearted way. Certainly, Russia’s tumultuous recent history has given citizens plenty of practice at adapting to the latest turns of fate.
The key part of the video is embedded above. The entire program is here (access for Дождь subscribers only).
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The video, of course, has subtitles, but the transcript below includes more of the conversational particles that the speakers use.
Вопрос: Что для вас самое болезненное в текущем кризисе?
Девушка: Кошелёк чувствует.