In a game of Tit-For-Tat, Russia banned imports of most food from Western Europe last year after Europe imposed sanctions on Russia for the invasion of Crimea.
However, distributors from Eastern European countries, particularly Belarus, have been trying to circumvent the ban, smuggling or re-packaging Belgian, French, and German food and shipping it to waiting buyers in Russia. The Russian government has not been pleased; thousands of tons of food have been confiscated and are being destroyed as part of the ban.
A petition with over 250,000 signatures has been circulating Moscow as people ask the food instead be donated to the poor, but the pleas have so far fallen on deaf ears.
Russian farmers have been generally happy with the ban; the vacuum left by foreign competition has been causing food prices to spike, and farmers are making much more for the same corps they produced before. The Russian Government has been focusing strongly on this “silver lining” that it may eventually push Russia along to self-sufficiency for food production.
The flip side, which the government has been largely ignoring, is that this spike in food prices is cripping the incomes of millions of people around the country. Over half the household budget of the average Russian family is spent on food, and this spike in prices is driving millions of people back under the poverty line.
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