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article imageRussia buries and burns contraband food on order of Putin

By Karen Graham     Aug 6, 2015 in World
Belgorod - Russia marked the one year anniversary of its ban on western agricultural products on Thursday by destroying contraband food products, much to the consternation and outrage of the public and some at the Kremlin.
Even though the poverty rate in Russia is rising quickly and grocery stores have bare shelves, the Russian government decided to punish its own people by celebrating the one year anniversary of Putin's ban on Western agricultural products by opening a "food crematoria" on Thursday.
With continuing tensions with the West and the crisis in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin is not backing down on his ban of Western goods. To bring the point home to the Russian people, footage aired on national television, showing a bulldozer running over and crushing big blocks of yellow cheese near the town of Belgorod on the Ukrainian border.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Svetlana Zaporozhchenko, a spokeswoman for the government agency responsible for confiscating illegal foods coming across Russia's borders, said the cheese likely came from one of the European countries that sanctioned Russia for its annexation of Crimea last year. “The destruction has been completed, and after it is destroyed it is buried,” Ms. Zaporozhchenko said.
The expression "food crematoria" comes from an incident that occurred before the cheese crushing took place. In that incident, zealous government workers threw boxes of European bacon into an incinerator. Even some Kremlin "allies" of Putin are denouncing the "food crematoria," while an Orthodox priest publicly called the actions by the government "insane and sinful."
With food products becoming scarce on grocery shelves, the Kremlin is hoping to stop the flow of European and Western goods into the country by raising the costs to those involved in obtaining the contraband, ignoring the public outcry.
But the outcry is growing by leaps and bounds. Over 285,000 people have signed an online petition begging the government to give the banned foods to the poor, instead of destroying it. With the sharp depreciation of the ruble, consumer prices have skyrocketed, pushing an increasingly large number of Russians below the poverty line.
Reuters printed a portion of the petition that reads: "Sanctions have led to a major growth in food prices on Russian shelves. Russian pensioners, veterans, large families, the disabled and other needy social groups were forced to greatly restrict their diets, right up to starvation," it says. "If you can just eat these products, why destroy it?"
Putin's decree on destroying contraband food products began on Thursday. The methods for the destruction of food products is not specified but says the process should be carried out by "any means possible and videotaped."
More about food crematoria, one year anniversary, sanctions against Russia, Famine, Economic downturn
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