Putin Is Banning a Bunch of Western Imports. Russians Fear for Their Booze.

Russian social media users are raging about Putin's food and drink imports ban and preparing to cry over empty glasses. Images mixed by author.

Russian social media users are raging about Putin's food and drink imports ban and preparing to cry over empty glasses. Images mixed by author.

Russians might soon find themselves missing Scotch whisky and French cheese. But especially the whisky. A new decree signed by Vladimir Putin bans the import of agricultural products from the countries which had earlier imposed economic sanctions on Russia. The decree, published on the Kremlin website today, will last for a year, prohibiting foods and beverages from European Union countries and the United States in retaliation for their attempts to pressure Russia on its role in the Ukrainian conflict.

The exact list of banned goods is still in the works – the only thing we know for sure is that baby food and wine won't be on it, according to Dmitry Medvedev's press secretary Natalya Timakova. Other officials have said the list will definitely include fruit, vegetables, meat products, cheese and dairy.

Russian internet users went ballistic at the news of the ban, but expressed the greatest concern about access to Western booze.

User Ivan Kolpakov was so concerned he forgot to turn off the caps lock:


Ivan Davydov was waving goodbye to his favorite drink before the list was even published:

I guess I'll go and say goodbye to whisky today.

Even the usual jokes were filled with sadness, as Andrey Mima tweeted:

- Dad, vodka has become more expensive. Are you going to drink less?
– No, son, you're going to eat less.

A few people tried to see the positive side of the ban, like Nadezhda Astel, who hopes to finally make that diet work:


The outpouring of feelings about the food and drink ban was mostly humorous, as users found increasingly elaborate ways to make fun of Putin's retaliatory tactics and their consequences. Denis Chuzhoy wondered what the ban would mean for foodies on Instagram:

As 2015 rolls by, Russian Instagram accounts are empty…

User “Wylsacom” suggested the lack of culinary choice might be good reason to take a short trip to a nearby country:

- Where were you over the weekend?
– In Minsk, went for lunch.

Blogger Roman Volobuev had the business solution well in hand:

Oh, and I came up with a media startup: I will buy all kinds of food here in Riga, eat it, and tell you what it tastes like.

For many users, the news immediately brought to mind memories of Soviet deficits and long lines in empty shops, which many of the 30-somethings in Russia experienced as children. Maxim magazine reimagined what that could look like today:

Coming this fall to Russian stores. (captions in image: “Is your Belorussian ribeye fresh?” “Have they put out any jamon?”)

On a more somber note, journalist Roman Dobrokhotov posted a black and white image of the old food shortages (and did so before the final ban news were announced):

Actually, the Kremlin has already banned foreign goods to spite the West, and this is what it looked like.

Dobrokhotov also started a flash-mob on Facebook, asking his readers to share memories of Soviet “good old” times, attracting many less than fond recollections of hardship.

Russian officials promise that the foreign goods ban will not impact local food prices and say the list will allow further changes. But the real question is: should Russians really be saying their farewells to their favorite booze? And should they be stocking up on Snickers and Kinder Surprises?

Those running the Twitter account of popular Russian startup news website “Цукерберг Позвонит” summed it up well: it seems pop culture wisdom totally flew over the heads of Russian officials:

Hey, you completely misunderstood the Jobs quote “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”

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