For six months, the Petrov family (an assumed name) has opposed the Kremlin’s “special military operation” in Ukraine. But discreetly, around the kitchen table or in small groups with close friends. Not a word on social media, no discussions on the phone, no loud restaurant reviews. A veil of anger, sadness and frustration has hung over the lives of the Petrovs since the Russian invasion launched in the neighboring country on February 24. The family recounts the damage to their daily life from the Western sanctions taken against Russia. “And, de facto, against us, paradoxically”, summarizes Mikhaïl, the father, 60 years old. He understands these measures without fully supporting them.
This pre-retiree, employed in one of the main public groups under sanctions, is inexhaustible on the impact of the sanctions, direct or indirect, on his company. “Management acts as if nothing has happened. It echoes the official rhetoric: Russia will replace imports with its own productions; the economy will strengthen; the country will gain independence, he quips. In the meantime, it’s a return to bad habits: Russia and its economy are closing in on themselves and on a short-term vision. We zigzag between the sanctions prohibiting the purchase of Western parts and technologies. We bypass some of them. It is replaced by imports from China or Turkey. But, above all, we continue to make profits without modernizing and without worrying about future efficiency. »
Elena, the mother, in her fifties, a philosopher keen on European cultures and languages, saw her activities interrupted overnight. For years, she had been developing youth exchange programs between Russia and France, the United Kingdom, Germany… “Nothing is possible anymore. Culture is not under sanction. But, in fact, everything is blocked. Our partners no longer want or can work with us. With the closure of airspace, flights are too complicated and expensive. For our generation, it’s screwed. Maybe even for my grandchildren, she worries.
The rich will stay rich
Her son, Nikita, 34, tries to stay optimistic. The blocking of Swift, the international financial transaction system, for Russia since March has banned interbank exchanges on which its computer company was dependent. An expert in information technology, he had developed various marketing solutions. Nikita has since lost foreign customers. Unable to pay for subscriptions to Western applications, essential for upgrading his programs, he resorts to System D: he goes through a friend in Spain to pay and thus maintain access to providers in order to stay flow.
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