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Russia Destroys Smuggled Western Food, Prompting Public Outcry

Russian officials have used a steamroller to crush tons of cheese, fruit, and vegetables -- defying public outrage to begin a controversial effort to destroy Western food that has been smuggled into the crisis-hit country.

Russian television on August 6 showed officials dumping almost 9 tons of cheese on a patch of wasteland and crushing it with a steamroller in the Belgorod region bordering Ukraine.

Authorities said the cheese had arrived from Ukraine in unmarked boxes, but was mostly likely produced in the European Union.

Russia in 2014 imposed an embargo on Western food imports in retaliation for Western sanctions that were imposed over Russia's illegal annexation of Ukraine and it's support for pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

President Vladimir Putin last week signed a decree ordering the destruction of all food that violates the Kremlin's food embargo.

The order has provoked an outburst of public ire at a time when Russia's economic crisis has pushed millions into poverty and made it harder for them to afford basic food.

When asked how Putin feels about the ethical issue of food destruction, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a reporter from the state-run Interfax news agency, “Don’t exaggerate this issue.”

Peskov said the food being destroyed is “pure contraband.”

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP

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