Russian consumers and experts assess Belarusian food products amid recent food scandals

Russian consumers and experts assess Belarusian food products amid recent food scandals

Rosselkhoznadzor continues to impose bans on Belarusian enterprises that supply to Russia food products which allegedly don’t meet the international standards of food safety. Therefore, our special correspondent Alexander Dobriyan went to Russian Bryansk to prove the artificiality of these restrictions.

Today, Bryansk’s border crossing or, to be more precise, the Advance Notice Point Krasny Kamen (the Rosselkhoznadzor Department in the Bryansk and Smolensk regions) is covered in the Bryansk press, perhaps,  more often than Moscow affairs. Dozens of tons of Belarusian food products of a wide variety of manufacturers weren’t allowed to enter the Russian market for the last couple of months.

Andrei Arkhitsky, politician, deputy of the Bryansk City Council:
I don’t think that these issues are related to the concerns of people's health. It’s private business, everyone wants to have some kind of monopoly. That’s why different agencies and departments start to conduct their inspections and impose the bans on imports of goods from Belarus to Russia under some alleged pretext.

Bryansk residents well remember how a few years ago low-cost and high-quality sausages from Belarus, following the basic laws of the market, literally pushed the local producers, who believed that it’s unnecessary to add meat to sausages, off the store shelves.

Galina Zhupanova, pensioner (Bryansk, Russia):
Belarusian goods set a high standard of food products. Russian manufacturers followed the example of Belarusians.

Svetlana Zhilina, shop assistant of the Belarusian goods shop Belorusskiye Traditsii (Bryansk, Russia):
There are  80% of Belarusian goods in our shop. The consumers willingly buy dairy products, sausages and canned stewed meat. Having tasted Belarusian food products once our consumers fall in love with them.

Pavel Trusov is a young entrepreneur whose business is connected with Belarusian food products. His network of stores in Moscow and Bryansk sells up to 1,000 items of Belarusian goods: among them are not only milk and sausages, but also chocolate, macaroni, juices, canned vegetables, jams, and bread.

Pavel Trusov, a businessman (Russia):
Today it’s more difficult to import goods from Belarus. We hope the situation will get better. We choose only high-quality manufacturers. I don’t want policy to be involved in this issue.

But policy does have its influence on the process. Russian press literally turned its closest partner into a threat to national security. The main newsmaker is Rosselkhoznadzor. It’s unclear whose interests the agency protects, but certainly not those of ordinary Russian consumers. For example, in the middle of 2016, Rosselkhoznadzor represented by Sergei Dankvert neutralized the key player on the Russian market of condensed milk – Rogachev Milk Canning Plant. As a result, the vacant Russian market has been thronged with dangerous counterfeit.

Alexander Filenya, head of the sector for economic security of OAO Rogachev Milk Canning Plant:
One of the latest cases: the bottling of condensed milk with sugar took place in the Lyubertsy district of the Moscow region. It proves that sanitary standards weren’t met, the apparatus was in the basement of the barn.

Belarus head of state Alexander Lukashenko urged to assess the activity of Russian law enforcement officials.

Alexander Lukashenko, the President of the Republic of Belarus:
Igor Anatolyevich, we need to consider this issue and initiate a criminal case against Mr. Dankvert, like we made it against Mr. Kerimov and Mr. Baumgertner before, for the damage to the state. I’m sure, that people like Dankvert have their personal interests in these situations. They are producers themselves, or owners of enterprises, or work for those who are the competitors of Belarusian food products. Of course, in terms of quality and price they can’t compete with our goods. Now you see the reasons for all these bans and restrictions.

By the end of last week, the Russian officials were reported to postpone the planned visit to Belarus.

Veronika Posmetyeva, senior operations officer for especially important cases of the Main Directorate for Combating Economic Crimes of the Criminal Police of Belarus’ Interior Ministry:
The Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Belarus has the information that individual officials of the Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Supervision of the Russian Federation (Rosselkhoznadzor) acted in the interests not related to their professional activities, without sufficient grounds and in violation of the international law, thus having restricted the possibility to sell Belarusian goods on the territory of the Russian Federation.

Amid the accusations against Belarus made by Rosselkhoznadzor , the decision of Russia’s Federal Security Agency to establish the border zone along the Belarus-Russia border doesn’t seem so surprising.

Vladimir Tereshchenkov, pensioner (Zlynka, Russia):
I was born and grew up here. As I remember, we went to Belarus to buy everything: food products, sausages and clothing.  And it's not just my personal opinion, many people think this way. We don’t need this border.

Most of the Russian residents hope that the decrease in food supplies from Belarus is just a matter of time.

Another round of the Belarusian-Russian misunderstandings didn’t significantly affect the gastronomic predilections of the residents of Russian border areas. Belarusian food products are as delicious and loved here as before.