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15 Jun, 2021 14:01

$235 for a rack of lamb? Russian communist leader slams major St. Petersburg economic forum for catering to ‘exorbitant wealth’

$235 for a rack of lamb? Russian communist leader slams major St. Petersburg economic forum for catering to ‘exorbitant wealth’

Veteran Russian Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov has blasted the flashy St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, held earlier this month, raging that it was simply an ostentatious party for the country’s financial elite.

Speaking to Kommersant in an interview published on Tuesday, the figurehead of Moscow’s post-Soviet Marxist bloc said that he felt let down by the meeting, which brought together the country’s financial and industrial leaders as well as a number of foreign figures. Zyuganov felt its opulent displays were inappropriate at a time of grave crisis for ordinary people.

One of the first major congresses to be held largely in person since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, many of its sessions focused on how countries and businesses could recover from the disruption the virus has created. However, the socialist politician said, what should have been a “platform for really serious and honest discussions of the problems facing us” was undermined, he claimed, by the “oligarchy” and its “outrageous wealth.”

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“I was literally bowled over when I learned that even a cup of green tea there cost more than 3,000 rubles (over US$40),” he added. “You need to understand: this is done on purpose in order to demonstrate to society your power and arrogance.”

Photographs of menus from at least one venue catering to conference-goers went viral, with a rack of lamb reportedly setting back well-heeled business travelers a whopping 17,000 rubles (US$235) and an ordinary German beer weighing in at 1,300 rubles (US$18). The apparent price tags are a stark contrast to even some of the most lavish restaurants in St. Petersburg, a city that is known for its trendy culinary scene and affordable eateries.

“Such an overt demonstration of their superiority will inevitably turn into dangerous consequences,” Zyuganov said. “Our people can endure for a long time, but if they are not heard, then they will find justice for anyone and speak to the organizers of such tea parties in a language that they will definitely not like.”

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Addressing attendees as part of the conference’s keynote session, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that, while there were positive signs of economic recovery, there was a risk that it was exacerbating existing inequalities and could leave the world’s poorest behind. “This spawns serious political, economic, and social risks for both the developing and developed countries, as well as for overall global security,” the Russian president said.

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