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Russian Draft Bill Calls For Prison Terms For Smuggling Foreign Food

Russian customs officials have drafted a bill that calls for prison sentences for those who violate the country's retaliatory sanctions on Western food imports.

The draft bill, published on August 20 by the Federal Customs Service, calls for banned foreign foods to be listed as "strategically imported" -- a label currently reserved for radioactive nuclear materials and poisons.

The legislation would stiffen penalties against those found guilty of smuggling banned food from the European Union, the United States, and other blacklisted countries.

It would allow authorities to file criminal charges, with prison terms of up to seven years, against individuals and companies found guilty of smuggling.

For organized groups smuggling large amounts of banned foods, the punishment would be up to 12 years in prison.

The Kremlin's food bans were imposed in 2014 in retaliation for Western sanctions that were imposed against Russia over Moscow's illegal annexation of Crimea and its support for pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Based on reporting by AP, TASS and Interfax

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