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Belarus to Benefit Russia's EU Food Bans

Published: August 9, 2014 (Issue # 1823)



  • Alexander Lukashenko surveys a field of wheat in Belarus.
    Photo: Belta Video / YouTube

Belarus stands to profit off the bans that Russia has imposed on a range of Western food imports, with a chance to both boost its own production and, potentially, become a transit zone for banned European goods, economists said Friday.

The Russian government on Thursday published an extensive list of Western food products that have been barred from import to Russia in retaliation against European and U.S. sanctions on Moscow over the crisis in Ukraine.

The ban will derail imports worth an estimated $9 billion a year, including fruit and vegetables, dairy, meat products and fish from the European Union, the United States, Australia, Canada and Norway.

On Thursday, Leonid Marinich, Belarus's first deputy agriculture minister, said that his country was ready to shoulder the burden in the event of a food shortage in Russia, referring to the opportunity as a modern-day equivalent to the 19th century gold rush in Klondike, Canada.

"We can make up for many of the Western-made food products," Marinich was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti. "We can supply a variety of cheeseswe can replace Polish apples and Dutch potatoes, we have them all," he said.

Almost as soon as the food bans were announced on Thursday the Russian Internet was chuckling over a joke that tellingly anticipated Belarus's new role.

In the joke, a customer in a busy Russian store is offered some mussels with the improbable label "Made in Belarus." When the customer raises an eyebrow and says that this is impossible Belarus is, after all, landlocked he is told that the mussels were made in Belarus, period, and has has no option other than to buy the "Belarusian mussels."

The joke is not so far from reality, as Belarus has, in fact, already dabbled in so-called "grey exports" before, according to Dmitry Bolkunets, an economist at Moscow's Higher School of Economics.

"In recent years, Belarus has successfully exported Polish pork to Russia, which was not produced within the country but was sold with a Belarusian label," Bolkunets said.

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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 todays Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nations 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


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Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolans 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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