Prices go up again in Chechnya
By Umalt Chadayev
CHECHNYA - Over the past week the prices of food and miscellaneous goods rose in Chechnya by an average of 10-12%.
In particular, people are noticing increases in the price of food. Many are inclined to associate the new price increases with the approaching Muslim fast of Ramadan.
"In just a week the prices of various goods, especially food, have risen by more than 10 per cent. The price of bread at the markets is now stable at 10 roubles, though quite recently it could be bought for seven or eight.
"The same applies to other goods," Sovdan Malayeva, a resident of the Chechen capital, explained in an interview with Prague Watchdog’s correspondent. "People think this is being done specially for the month of Ramadan, because raising prices for food during the period of the Muslim fast is a major sin in Islam."
But alongside higher food prices the cost of motor transport services is also growing. Last week the drivers of the minibuses that run between Grozny and Nazran (the biggest city in the neighbouring republic of Ingushetia) raised their fare for the trip from 80 to 90 roubles, justifying this by the increased price of gasoline.
There has also been a hike in the price of construction materials. It is now impossible to find a 50 kilo bag of cement, which last year cost 150 roubles and until recently 200-250 roubles, for less than 300. And this even though the rebuilt cement factory in the village of Chiri-Yurt, in Chechnya’s Shalinsky district, will soon start production.
"As far as I know, the price of cement has risen so sharply because many suppliers are now rapidly switching from our market to Sochi, where the 2014 Winter Olympics will be held. They’ve raised the wholesale prices of their products, and of course the prices here have also skyrocketed," says an employee of the Chechen Construction Ministry.
Meanwhile people in Chechnya are already saying that the opening of the Chiri-Yurt cement factory will not solve the problem of the republic’s cement shortage. It is claimed that the plant’s main function will be to provide raw materials to the Sochi developers, and that cement produced in the republic for the domestic market will not go there. Experts, who say that Chechnya needs about one million tons of cement each year, do not rule out the possibility that the price of cement in the country will continue to grow in future.
"I don’t understand what is happening, not just in Chechnya but also in the whole of Russia," Sovdan says angrily. "The authorities say that the rouble has strengthened, that the country is on an upward path, that everything is so much better now than it has been for the past ten years. But meanwhile the price of everything is rising. Sellers at the market and in stores used to explain those rises by the rising strength of the dollar. At present, as far as I know, the dollar is steadily falling, but the prices are still increasing. I find that impossible to understand."