Interior ministry announces uncovering of international criminal group after police and security services seize goods and arrest six people near Moscow.
Russia’s interior ministry has announced the unmasking of a major criminal gang involved in the newly illegal cheese trade, after the police and security services made a number of coordinated arrests and warehouse searches near Moscow.
Elena Alekseyeva, from the ministry, said on Tuesday: “An organised international criminal group has been uncovered, which was engaging in the distribution of sanctioned products from abroad.”
Moscow banned the import of cheese and a number of other food products from EU countries a year ago in response to western sanctions on Russia over its actions in Ukraine. The move was meant to hit the economies of EU countries, but it has also led to rising prices in Russia.
In an acknowledgement that the bans were being frequently circumvented, officials in recent weeks have begun the high-profile destruction of contraband food, destroying Dutch cheese, Polish apples and Danish pork at the border by incineration or crushing. Many Russians were uneasy at the images, shown widely on state television, of food being destroyed in a country where millions live below the poverty line.
Congealed Tipp-Ex to odour of gym – Russia's cheese fakers fail the taste test
Over the weekend, food standards officials said about 600 tonnes of food had been destroyed since the new “destroy on site” rules came into effect on 6 August. A hotline has been set up for concerned citizens to anonymously report sightings of contraband cheese and other products.
The latest police move involved cheese worth about 2bn roubles (£19.4m). Officers also seized cheese production and labelling equipment after swooping on 17 different addresses. Six people were arrested.
The scheme appears to be more sophisticated than simply importing banned cheese and selling it on. The interior ministry statement suggested the group had been importing rennet or other food products used to make cheese, which are also banned under the sanctions. They would then produce cheap counterfeit cheeses on site, add fake labels and pass them off as banned European luxuries.
The various counter-sanctions have led to a number of surreal news items in recent days. In a small town in Tatarstan, police and prosecutors released a video of three frozen geese of suspect origin being seized with high ceremony from a local shop, taken to a field and driven over with a bulldozer. At the border with Ukraine, 50 live ducklings were seized, euthanised and incinerated, according to news reports.
Separately, customs officers have begun burning shipments of Dutch flowers, claiming dangerous parasites had been found in some of them.
On Friday, January 10, Viorel Morari, Moldova’s Anti-Corruption Prosecutor, was detained. Initially held for 72 hours, Morari’s arrest was extended on January 13 for a further 30 days. A number of international outlets reported Mr. Morari’s circumstances, due to the political...( ) Read all
With the narrative that floats around, one is tempted to think that the Ukraine crisis is all about Crimea; that it started and ended there. So what about the internal oblasts like Odessa, Kharkiv, Luhansk, and Donetsk (the South- Eastern regions) where a protracted conflict broke out? Are...( ) Read all
During his visit from 21 to 23 January, the OSCE Special Representative for the Transdniestrian Settlement Process Ambassador Thomas Mayr-Harting will hold talks with high-level Moldovan officials and the political leadership in Tiraspol.( ) Read all
The past few days have been witness, to some important statements made in the context of the Joint Comprehensive Program for Action (JCPOA) — also referred to as the Iran Nuclear deal. US allies, including the UK and some EU member states do not seem to be in agreement with the US...( ) Read all
When Russians woke up on Wednesday morning, most had likely never heard of Mikhail Mishustin, the head of the country’s tax service. But by the time they went to bed that night, Mishustin had been named as Russia’s new prime minister after a day that included a flurry of...( ) Read all
Washington (CNN)Days after President Donald Trump claimed the US killed Iran's top military general because he was targeting four American embassies, two of the President's top national security officials are declining to provide evidence of the intelligence used to justify the US drone...( ) Read all
The Russian military intervention in the Syrian civil war has strengthened the anti-Russian ideological wave of the al-Qaeda-aligned Central Asian and North Caucasian Salafi-Jihadi groups fighting alongside the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) against the Bashar al-Assad regime. After the...( ) Read all
The effects of globalisation are radically challenging our perception of the world. In order to respond effectively to current challenges, we must change our mindset, open up to the world, consider those around us and create a new global governance (Brown 2019; Foucher 2019).( ) Read all
Pro-Kremlin media have recently started to express sympathy for Fascism. This is not entirely new: The Web Site News Front, based in illegally annexed Crimea, has been praising Hitler and Nazism; pro-Kremlin Russia Insider is not only attempting to whitewash Nazism, but...( ) Read all
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Libyan peace talks will be held in Berlin, as the internationally-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) and Libyan National Army (LNA) reached a ceasefire upon Turkey and Russia’s initiative. During a joint press conference with Russian...( ) Read all
Rio judge’s ruling follows complaint that the ‘honour of millions of Catholics’ was hurt by The First Temptation of Christ. The First Temptation of Christ depicts Jesus returning home on his 30th birthday and implies he is gay. Photograph: Netflix Brazil/AFP via...( ) Read all
Strasbourg court declares Russia guilty of violating human rights in the breakaway Moldovan region that it de facto controls, over the case of a young man accused of treason and jailed for espionage in 2011.( ) Read all
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to travel to Moscow Saturday for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The meeting will likely focus on the Iran crisis, with both Germany and Russia calling for de-escalation following the U.S. targeted killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and...( ) Read all
Amidst an environment of a tense standoff between Iran and the US since the last couple of months, the United States assassinated high-ranking Iranian military and intelligence official Qasem Soleimani in a drone strike at Baghdad International Airport on Friday morning along with several...( ) Read all
Ukrainian passenger jet probably crashed after being hit by a Russian-made Tor-M1 missile over Parand and crashed in the town of Khalaj Abad. Ukrainian International Airlines flight PS752, en route from Tehran to Kyiv, with 176 people on board has crashed in Iran just minutes after take-off...( ) Read all
Senior administration officials have begun drafting sanctions against Iraq after President Trump publicly threatened the country with economic penalties if it proceeded to expel U.S. troops, according to three people briefed on the planning.( ) Read all
An explosive leak of tens of thousands of documents from the defunct data firm Cambridge Analytica is set to expose the inner workings of the company that collapsed after the Observer revealed it had misappropriated 87 million Facebook profiles.( ) Read all
Charred fragments found in 170,000-year-old ashes in a cave in southern Africa are the earliest roasted root vegetables yet found. The finding suggest the real “paleo diet” included lots of roasted vegetables rich in carbohydrates, similar to modern potatoes.( ) Read all
A thaw is coming early this Russian winter. Inbound retail and technology investments are hints of improvement in the business climate, and fresh sanctions fears have eased off. But these bright spots won’t save the G20 country from economic stagnation in 2020.( ) Read all
Russia and the United States have had another year of rocky relations that have included more sanctions, heavy rhetoric, and a shortage of constructive dialogue to bring the two countries together. 2020 will likely be a mixed bag of steps forward and stagnation that closely resembles the past...( ) Read all