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Russia Bans Canned Fish From Latvia, Estonia

Russia says it has temporarily banned imports of canned fish from Latvia and Estonia for health reasons.

Russian veterinary service officials said on June 4 the ban is due to the fish products containing high levels of the toxic substance benzopyrene.

The Russian decision led Latvian officials to accuse Moscow of trying to put political pressure on the Baltic states.

Latvian Agriculture Minister Janis Duklavs said on June 4 that "Perhaps I will not link the matter with Latvia's presidency of the Council of the EU, but I will remind you that Lithuanian milk producers had a similar problem when their country held the presidency [back in 2013]."

Latvian fish companies export about half of their catch to Russia.

Relations between the three Baltic countries -- all former Soviet republics -- and Russia have been tense since Moscow's seizure last year of the Crimean Peninsula and the crisis in eastern Ukraine.

Fresh and frozen fish from the Baltic countries were banned by Russia last year after EU sanctions against Moscow were imposed.

Based on reporting by Reuters and LETA