Kerch – In annexed Kerch, shopkeepers and customers are having difficulties with the suspension of the hryvnia. They cannot give Ukrainian coins as change in shops and supermarkets any longer, and there is still no supply of Russian change on the peninsula.
Shopkeepers are trying to put the solution of the problem on the buyers’ shoulders, demanding that they pay on obligation, or offering them to buy goods on a rounded sum. On their part, the customers argue with the shopkeepers, demanding that they are given Russian change.
Many customers have to give up part of their purchases in order to approximate the end sum to a round number.
“This is torture! I cannot take my purchases because the cashier doesn’t have any change. See for yourself: a loaf of moulded bread costs 9 roubles and 12 kopets. ‘Selianskoye’ milk – 33 roubles and 72 kopeks. Now pay without change, they tell me at the cash register. Where will I find change for them? I still have Ukrainian coins that nobody needs, but it is still money,” complains pensioner Irina Vitalyevna.
At the markets the problem is less palpable, as the sellers have curved all the prices upwards. But this also evokes dissatisfaction among the customers, as now absolutely everything has become more expensive.
“Before I would pay both with roubles and hryvnia. It was uncomfortable, but I at least had the possibility to gradually get rid of Ukrainian change, and everything turned out to be much cheaper in hryvnia. Today I paid only in roubles for the first time and I was shocked: it was cheaper in hryvnia! It seems insignificant: they curve 50 kopeks here, 1.5 roubles there, but the result turns out to be significant. I can’t imagine how we are to survive now with such prices,” says Kerch citizen Irina Kozlova after visiting the marketplace.
The experience of market sellers will possibly be taken up by shopkeepers and supermarket owners in the near future. It is too tempting to kill two birds with one stone: curve the price, get more revenue and rid the cashier of the necessity to look for change.
Those who received their salaries in hryvnia until the very last moment have it worst of all. While for budget workers and pensioners the transition to the rouble was milder, the owners of the Ukrainian currency sieged the supermarkets on May 31st in order to buy as many bare essentials as possible.
The fears of these people are understandable: exchange points in the Crimea work without documents or receipts, it is impossible to say what the new hryvnia-to-rouble exchange rate will be. So the Crimeans tried to stock up on produce, cigarettes, diapers at least for the near future – things that are relevant for individual families.
Regardless of the fact that there has long been talk about transition to roubles starting June 1st, the suspension of the hryvnia was a shock for the Crimeans. Crimea turned out to be unprepared for the change of currency: there is still no Russian change, there is insufficient amount of cash overall. As of today Crimeans have difficulties paying taxes and utilities.
And it turns out that Crimeans don’t have a clear understanding of what is happening. It is best seen at cash registers, where similar confusion, anger and helplessness can be seen on both the shopkeepers’ and buyers’ faces. These are feelings of people that are beginning to grasp that first, they will have to pay more. And second, there will be more and more unpleasant discoveries like this one every day.
Translated by Mariya Shcherbinina
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I feel sorry for the people…but they did want to go with Russia didn’t they?