Russia Destroys Tons Of Western Food Imports

President Putin has signed a decree ordering the destruction of food ranging from gourmet cheese to fruit and vegetables.

Authorities in Russia are stepping up their crackdown on smugglers trying to get round a ban on importing western food.

Several tons of foreign cheese has been destroyed because of an embargo brought in last year in retaliation for western sanctions.

Some of the cheese has come through former USSR states

Much of the food is brought across former USSR-state borders

President Putin last week signed a decree ordering the destruction of the food which ranges from gourmet cheese to fruit and vegetables.

The cheese was transported from Ukraine but officials said it was most likely to have been produced in the EU

Russia complains that some importers are getting round the ban by putting on new labels and claiming the food was produced in neighbouring ex-Soviet countries.

Russia’s Agriculture Minister Alexander Tkachev said the destruction was necessary because the food was of “dubious quality”.

“It is a worldwide practice that if you break the law, if it is smuggled goods, they have to be destroyed,” Mr Tkachev told Russian state television.

But the government has been criticised for wasting food as sanctions have created an economic crisis and millions more Russians are now living in poverty.

Business paper Vedomosti Daily in a front-page editorial said: “This is no ordinary measure. This is a display of barbarity, a challenge to society, a refusal to see the ethical side, where it is most important.”

And Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, who is usually a supporter of Mr Putin, declared the move “extreme” and proposed sending the food to orphanages and to the separatist pro-Russian regions of eastern Ukraine.

Meanwhile, more than 280,000 Russians have signed a petition calling on President Putin to stop the destruction and to give the food to people who need it.