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MOSCOW, November 27. /TASS/. Russian food standards officers said on Thursday there was no reason to abolish new rules controlling food being transported across Russia from neighbour-state Belarus to third destinations.
Tougher laws were needed to battle increasingly frequent attempts by Western suppliers to circumvent Russia’s ban on food imports, fraudulently reexporting European fruit and vegetables through Russia's partners in the three-nation customs union with Belarus and Kazakhstan under the guise of transit, they said.
“We see no reason (to abolish the rules) since our Belarusian counterparts allowed some 254 cars with smuggled goods and fake certificates without checking them,” Sergey Dankvert, head of Russia's veterinary and phytosanitary service Rosselkhoznadzor, told TASS.
Earlier in the day, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko vowed a response to new veterinary and food standards regulations set to tighten transit rules aimed at stopping trucks said destined for Kazakhstan but unloading instead in Russia.
Lukashenko directed his protest at a meeting with St. Petersburg Governor Georgy Poltavchenko. “The behaviour of Russian authorities does not just surprise, but upsets,” he said. “If trade between the two countries is not normalized according to Customs agreements, we will have to respond.”
On November 25, Sergey Sidorsky, Agriculture and Industry Minister for the Eurasian Economic Commission, the customs union's supranational regulatory body, also said the new rules were not consistent with the union's objectives.
Regulations effective from November 30 are designed to close illegal transit routes which authorities say are channelling frozen meat from Europe into Russia — products Moscow has banned in response to Western sanctions over Ukraine. From this date, consignments must be examined at Russian checkpoints before being allowed through.