Russian watchdog says that banned EU food continues to be smuggled from Belarus

Fruits and vegetables grown in the European Union continue to be smuggled into Russia through Belarus, Russia’s Federal Veterinary and Phytosanitary Monitoring Service (Rosselkhoznadzor) said in a statement posted on its website.

In August, Russia imposed a one-year ban on imports of food from the EU countries and a number of other countries in retaliation for their sanctions, but the banned goods still find their way to Russian customers because of the lack of customs controls at the border with Belarus.

The Russian agency said that its officers had stopped more than 80 shipments of EU food near the Belarusian border since the introduction of the ban. Such goods normally have no accompanying documents at all or are disguised as Belarusian, said the statement.

In late August and earlier this month, the agency’s inspections found a wide range of EU-grown fruits and vegetables at retail outlets and markets in Moscow and the Moscow and Tula provinces. Their package labels indicated that the goods had been re-exported from Belarus, according to the statement.

Rosselkhoznadzor said that many of the goods were unsafe and infected with pests.

Last week, the agency’s head, Sergei Dankvert, expressed concern over a sharp rise in EU food imports by Belarus since the introduction of the ban. // BelaPAN