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Russia's Food Ban Strikes Its Own Consumers

Published: August 8, 2014 (Issue # 1823)



  • Shoppers browsing for food in a Russian supermarket Thursday found shelves in some stores that were bare of certain imported goods by the end of the day.
    Photo: Vladimir Filonov / MT

On the orders of President Vladimir Putin, Russia on Thursday cut off over $9 billion in food imports to its market in the most aggressive response yet to Western sanctions over its backing of separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine, escalating an economic clash that has already undermined the fragile Russian economy.

"Russia is imposing a full ban on deliveries of beef, pork, fruit and vegetables, poultry, fish, cheese, milk and dairy products from the European Union, the United States, Australia, Canada and Norway," Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced during a government session.

The move — which is likely to slash consumer choice in supermarkets, hike Russia's already high inflation rate and force interest rates up — follows Putin's signing of a decree on Wednesday ordering the government to bar food imports from countries that have imposed sanctions, "with the purpose of ensuring Russia's safety."

The decision comes in a tit-for-tat reprisal to Western sanctions over Russia's support of separatist militias in eastern Ukraine. The West's sanctions escalated significantly following the downing of a Malaysian passenger plane in the region last month, with both the United States and European Union cutting off major state-owned banks' access to Western capital markets and barring exports of defense and oil technologies to Russia.

The food import ban will last for one year, Medvedev said, although there is room for negotiation.

"If our partners demonstrate a constructive approach on issues of cooperation, the government is prepared to reconsider the duration of these measures," he said.

Medvedev noted that the measures will not touch children's food or goods that individuals personally buy abroad and transport to Russia.

The imports directly affected by the sanctions reached $9.2 billion last year, constituting more than half of the total value of food exported to Russia from the countries concerned and nearly a quarter of Russia's food imports last year, Reuters reported, citing data from the International Trade Center.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at today’s Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nation’s premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the city’s elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolan’s latest film “Mommy” at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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