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Reuters/Peter Kovalev
No cheese for you.
DON'T SAY CHEESE

Russia unmasked a gang that imported $30 million of banned foreign cheese

Hanna Kozlowska
By Hanna Kozlowska

Investigative reporter

Russian authorities uncovered a criminal ring that produced $30 million worth of cheese, using products imported from abroad that were banned under the country’s recent sanctions against the West.

Police arrested 6 people following raids on 17 homes, offices and warehouses around Moscow. They found 470 tons of contraband foreign cheese rennet and equipment to make counterfeit labels. In a strange twist, the cheese was affixed with fake labels of known European brands, and sold as banned foreign treats to supermarket chains and distributors around Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Russia banned the import of a number of food products from EU  countries last year as retaliation for the West’s sanctions against the country for Russia’s involvement in the conflict in Ukraine.

In late July, Vladimir Putin himself issued an executive order to destroy foods confiscated at the country’s border. Dramatic images of the confiscated food sparked a discussion about wasting food while ignoring the country’s poverty problem.

The Russian ban also led to a heartbreaking development on Sunday (Aug.16), when authorities euthanized and burned 50 ducklings smuggled in from Ukraine because they lacked “accompanying documents.”

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