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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. 24


SPIBA’s ongoing “Breakfast with the Director” series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at “Sounds of the Universe,” a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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