Russia stops Belarusians’ bid to import Polish apples under guise of Bulgarian medicines

On February 29, Russian customs officers stopped a vehicle owned by a Belarusian transport operator. According to the documents, it was delivering a 13-ton consignment of Bulgarian-made medicines from Belarus to Russia.

The sender of the goods is a company registered in Minsk, and the recipient is a Smolensk-based firm.

“In the course of inspection customs officers found apples in boxes with labels confirming their Polish origin. Bringing such products to Russia is forbidden,” Vladimir Safonov, an inspector of Smolensk customs, told news agency Interfax.

Now the apples have been sent for examination to a department of Rosselkhoznadzor, Russia’s Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance. It is highly likely that they will be then dumped and even bulldozed.

Lately Russia has detected a case of importing Polish apples disquised as beer.

Since Russia introduced an embargo in 2014, Belarus has been trying to make hay when the sun shines. Belarusian companies attempt to re-export blacklisted goods using a variety of tricks. For example, last year, according to official Belarusian data, Ecuador, a small South American country, exported to Belarus twice as many apples as it had.

Another way is to declare a false destination of exported goods. Belarusian transport operators can state that they head to Kazachstan, which, like Belarus, failed to show solidarity to Russia by introducing an embargo. But cargoes carried by Belarusian trucks often ‘disappear’ after crossing the border with Russia and never reach this Central Asian country. However, empty vehicles return to Belarus and do the same again.