Mark Byrnes is a senior associate editor at CityLab who writes about design and architecture.
In hopes of furthering a boycott of Russian goods, protesters are starting flash mobs to raise awareness.
The Ukrainian movement to boycott Russian goods started during Euromaidan last November. Since its neighbor annexed Crimea last month, it's gained steam. Some women are even withholding sex from Russian men.
Measuring the results of these efforts are hard. But in terms of goods you'd find in a grocery store, Ukrainian news site TSN reports a 40 percent decline (link is in Ukrainian) in Russian product sales during the last two weeks of March. The disputed Crimea referendum took place March 16.
Labels can be deceptive, however. A Ukraine-based blogger who goes by his Twitter handle, "@UA_UK_," recently noted how complicated it can be to figure out a product's origin. For example, Greenfield Tea may be packaged in Ukraine and have a London P.O. box for an address. But the company is owned by Russians.
Last week, the BBC reported on a new service that helps shoppers identify whether or not a product is from Russia. Called "Boycott the Occupiers," the app advises you after a barcode scan whether or not you should buy it. But many products one would normally identify as Western are considered by local activists as Russian. As "@UA_UK_" writes, "Nescafe and Nestle are Swiss, but their products for the Ukrainian market are produced largely in Russia." So they make the "do not buy" list.
To further the movement, flash mobs are popping up in supermarkets around the country, filling up isles with protestors sprawled out as dead bodies and holding signs that encourage customers to think before they buy: