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Panic Buyers Empty Kiev Stores

 
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Buck Turgidson



Joined: 29 Jan 2003
Posts: 96

PostPosted: Fri Jun 27, 2003 3:33 pm    Post subject: Panic Buyers Empty Kiev Stores Reply with quote

I thought some would be interested in this story.

AP | 27 June 03

KIEV -- In an outbreak of panic-buying redolent of Soviet-era shortages, Ukrainians are stripping store shelves of flour, buckwheat and other staples amid skyrocketing prices driven by a disastrous harvest and alleged scams.

There's no immediate relief in sight for the country that has some of the richest soil in Europe and was the breadbasket of the Soviet Union.

"How can I say how much [flour] will cost next week, if I don't have any now?" said the manager of Kiev's Mekos grocery chain, who gave only his first name and patronymic, Ihor Nikolaivich.

When he called his wholesaler to restock his shelves, he said, he was told the warehouse had been emptied by the run on goods. Store managers face similar problems all over this capital of more than 3 million people.

"Yesterday, 3 tons of buckwheat just flew away. We didn't even manage to get it on the shelves, everything was taken off the handcarts," said one store manager. Other managers have moved other goods onto the staple shelves to lessen the grim appearance of short supply.

Flour that had been selling for about 3.50 hryvna (65 cents) 2 kilograms at the beginning of the week was up to 6 hryvna on Wednesday -- where it was available at all. Buckwheat underwent a similar rise.

The drastic price hikes take are a severe blow to Ukrainians, whose average monthly income is $71.

Deputy Prime Minister Mykola Azarov told the Cabinet on Wednesday that there was no cause for panic and called on citizens to stop frantic purchases, his spokesman Vitaliy Lukianenko said. Azarov claimed the hoarding had further fueled hikes already up due to bitter weather.

Ukraine's grain harvest is expected to plunge by as much as 40 percent to 23 million to 27 million metric tons after an extraordinarily harsh winter and dry summer wiped out much of the country's crops. But officials say that harvest figures were widely falsified so that state reserves appeared on paper to have sufficient supplies, allowing secret export sales that depleted an already short supply.

Azarov vowed to intervene shortly to stabilize the market by procuring supplies to satisfy consumer demand. Kiev city officials also announced plans to buy at least 4,000 metric tons of flour, sugar and buckwheat to stave off further increases, Interfax reported.

Meanwhile, Azarov ordered officials to prepare legislation allowing the government to confiscate "excess profits" and tasked tax officials with ensuring that all taxes are collected from traders, who he claimed had capitalized on the scare by raising prices.

President Leonid Kuchma has ordered officials to probe dozens of cases of alleged graft in the grain market.

Leonid Kozachenko, who headed Ukraine's agricultural policy until a Cabinet reshuffle in November, was jailed in March on charges of corruption, bribery and tax evasion, but was freed on bail this month following pressure from lawmakers and activists. They claim the charges were trumped up to disguise the government's failure to implement key reforms or its willingness to allow shady deals to go forward.

Although Ukraine is one of the world's largest grain exporters, it plans to import grain this year to compensate for the shortages.

Despite its agricultural riches, Ukraine was often hit by shortages during the Soviet era because of inefficient collective farming. It also suffered a devastating famine in 1932-33 that historians say was provoked by Josef Stalin as part of an undeclared war against peasants.



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Buck
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maruss



Joined: 18 Mar 2003
Posts: 1012
Location: Cyprus

PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2003 8:10 am    Post subject: Ukraine,Belarus and Moldova Reply with quote

Ask anyone from any of these former Soviet Republics and they will not be at all surprised at such stories,which are part of everyday life there!
Cyprus is full of decent people from Ukraine,many of them qualified,but doing manual work and even construction etc. in the blazing sun,because they cannot earn any kind of living in their own country!And many of the so-called cabarets and night clubs here,about which the Council of Europe visitor has just made scathing comments as there are over two thousand girls working in them,are staffed by Moldavians!!Another report on human trafficking estimates that half the female population of that country have turned to prostitution as a means of survival!
Of course you can visit places like Kiev,Odessa and other key cities and admire the architecture,history and culture,shop in luxury stores(which are often empty of customers!) and be amazed by all the mercedes cruising the streets-most of which are stolen in western Europe!
Like many people from there tell me,it's a lovely place,especially in the south,but a terrible country to live in-unless you are in the "mob"then you have other problems!
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Buck Turgidson



Joined: 29 Jan 2003
Posts: 96

PostPosted: Sun Jul 27, 2003 3:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maruss,

A Ukrainian friend of mine went to Cyprus and was denied entrance. They kept him at the airport and stuck him on the next flight out. He told me that he was going on holiday and had the proper visa. Maybe he was planning to stay and work, I don't know. Still he is out the airfare.

I lived in Ukraine for a year in 1996-97. I loved it, but it was challenging. It is definitely worse off than Russia. Ironically, Ukraine was the wealthiest of the Former Soviet republics. Soviet citizens dreamed of living there. Now people are trying to get out. I read an article a few years ago that claimed that the population of Ukraine dropped about five percent between 1991 and 1999. Most of the loss was attributed to emmigration.

I returned there last year and, cosmetically at least, there seemed to have been improvement. It seems Ukraine has a long way to go yet. Sad

Buck
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maruss



Joined: 18 Mar 2003
Posts: 1012
Location: Cyprus

PostPosted: Tue Jul 29, 2003 7:18 am    Post subject: Ukraine etc...... Reply with quote

You are absolutely right about immigration etc. but to say it will need quite a while to improve as a country,is the understatement of 2003!!
Although I suppose if you compare it to Moldova,which is just next door but a hundred times worse from every angle,the life in Ukraine is "not too bad!"
It's such a pity though that in the 21st century,we have to rate countries in Europe as" third world"-not to say of course,that it's acceptable for Africa,South America and parts of Asia etc. to be looked on this way and just ignored because it's supposedly their own fault!

M.
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