I just recently blogged on plans to introduce price controls on food in Russia. I speculated (pun intended) that “I expect that these developments will lead, in turn, as day follows night, to publicity/propaganda campaigns against ‘speculators’ and ‘hoarders.'” From my lips (or fingertips, as it were) to Vlad’s ears–or at least to the ears of the RF’s Federal Anti-Monopoly Service, and in record time too. From a 25 October, 2007 Moscow Times article by Max Delaney (of the Moscow Delaneys?):
In a further sign that authorities are actively cracking down on retailers, the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service announced Tuesday that it had opened up to 40 investigations against traders accused of speculating on food price rises, RIA-Novosti reported.
“The investigations primarily concern the abuse of monopolistic positions in the food goods sector,” said Andrei Tsarikovsky, deputy head of the service.
The service has checked markets selling milk, butter, meat and cheese in the Krasnoyarsk, Tomsk, Perm, Penza, Rostov and Ivanov regions, Tsarikovsky said.
I wonder if the Anti-Monopoly Service reassigned some of its personnel from its investigation of Gazprom in order to carry out these inquiries. Only kidding.
On a more serious note, we can expect much more of this sort of strongarming when the “voluntary” price freeze goes into effect and the elections near. It is exactly these sorts of tactics that will: (a) exacerbate shortages of goods, and (b) stoke corruption. I’ve seen this movie before, and believe me, it doesn’t get any better in the second reel.