Russians Should not Starve, Says Former Soviet Prime Minister

Russians Should not Starve, Says Former Soviet Prime Minister


According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO,) global food prices soared in January 2021. They hit the highest level since July 2014. Statistic data show that wheat prices rose by 6.8%. They were affected by a strong demand worldwide and an expected reduction in sales by Russia due to an increase in export duty on wheat. Rice prices were boosted by a strong demand from Asia and Africa.

During a meeting with Maxim Reshetnikov, the Minister of Economic Development, Vladimir Putin said that at present, the situation on the global food market was only getting worse.

What should an ordinary Russian do on this background? What goods are the most important for average citizens? Nikolay RYZHKOV, a member of the Federation Council upper house of parliament, who was the Soviet Union’s Prime Minister from 1985 through 1990, shared his opinion on this issue in his interview with

Bread is Staff of Life!

“It is clear that time moves on,” says Ryzhkov. “Of course, today, Russia is able to provide itself with food. As for the foodstuffs, some of them that were considered higher-priority 60 years ago are not in this category anymore. Although if you take a look at what an average citizen buys in a supermarket, I think you will see that his or her food preferences remain the same in general. In addition, to my thinking, people rarely allow themselves some the special pleasures of the table.

“As they say, I am a person of the old-school. Therefore, it would not be surprising if I recalled the popular wisdom that bread is the staff of life. I believe that bread is at the top of the list of the most important products. Yes, the standard of living is rising and people, especially the young generation, have a higher shopping capacity. However, look at what people of the older generation and even migrant workers mostly take from the shelves. It is bread because it’s hard to imagine one’s diet without it. A person is not likely to be satiated without bread.

Fish, Meat and Vegetables

“Of course, I am not a nutritionist. However, I’d put dairy products such as milk, kefir [a fermented milk drink similar to a thin yogurt or ayran that is made from kefir grains,] and butter in second place. This is to my personal thinking. As they say, taste is a matter of opinion. If you put a person on bread-milk-and-kefir diet, it will lead to some issues in a month because everyone has biological needs and an obligatory set of calories. I believe this idea is the most important. Therefore, any person cannot live without such important foods as fish, meat and vegetables. This is the third and also very important set of foods. However, the prices of these foodstuffs are high, of course.

“If a person doesn't have enough money to buy some meat product, for example, sausage, his or her life might be considerably shortened. What is there to talk about if one eats only bread and drinks just kefir? Meat and sausages are animal proteins which people need very much. Of course, they also need fish.

“I am not talking about some super expensive sausages. People need the simplest ones at affordable prices as well. Or an ordinary slab of meat or fish. Otherwise, why do we keep talking about some important products? Everyone should have decent standards of living and not starve.”

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