14 Aug 2010 19:43

Russian minister attacks soaring prices for fans, ACs

MOSCOW. Aug 14 (Interfax) - Russia's emergency situations minister lashed out against companies that have drastically put up prices for goods demand for which has surged because of the current spell of abnormally hot weather in central European Russia.

"Let's show these people, what are we afraid of? Let's make a list of companies that are raising prices. Prices have been put up for fans, air conditioners, humidifiers," Sergei Shoigu said, adding that bottled water had gone up by 150%.

He argued that publicity is the chief way of combating the price hikes. "One must talk about this. That a gauze face mask was 3.5 rubles and now it costs several times as much. That's not on," he said.

"It's not even about placing blames, it's about waking up people's minds, their conscience," Shoigu said. Or, alternatively, "let's use tough market conditions," he said.

The minister's comments echoed statements by a senior Orthodox bishop.

Feofan, archbishop of Stavropol and Vladikavkaz, the other day branded the price rises for air conditioners as immoral and cruel.

"Yes, of course we live in market times, and the market determines the price. But that is not always justifiable, least of all at critical points in life," he said.

The Federal Anti-Monopoly Service has launched an investigation into the soaring prices for fans and air conditioners.