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Russia Opens 'Hotline' To Report Banned Food Sightings

A bulldozer crushing boxes of cheese outside the Russian southern city of Belgorod on August 6, 2015.

The Russian Prosecutor-General's Office has created a hotline for people to call and report any illegal imports of banned food products.

Prosecutor office representatives said on August 18 that two phone numbers will be available for Russian citizens to make such reports from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day.

Russian authorities have banned imports of food from the United States, the European Union, Japan, Australia, and some other Western nations in response to international sanctions against Russia over Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea in March 2014 and its involvement in the fighting in eastern Ukraine.

In recent weeks, in an acknowledgment that the food ban has been widely violated, Russia’s agricultural monitoring agency Rosselkhoznadzor has been publicizing the destruction of tons of "illegal" food.

Televised images of tons of cheese, fruit, and other foods being bulldozed by Russian authorities have stirred up anger among ordinary Russians suffering economic hardships that have worsened because of the international sanctions.

The new hotline reminds many of the Soviet-era practice to report suspicious deeds and "crimes" by neighbors and colleagues to the KGB.

Based on reporting by TASS and Interfax