an apple a day keeps Putin away
July 31, 2014 11:30 AM   Subscribe

Russia bans apples from Poland due to health regulation violations. Ukrainian cornmeal and McDonalds are also on the hit list. Russia has a pattern of banning the products of countries it has disputes with — under the guise of sanitary violations — in order to impose political pressure.

It banned Georgian wine and mineral water just before the 2008 war and last year it blocked the import of chocolates made by the company of Petro Poroshenko, a pro-Western politician who is now Ukraine's president. Earlier this month it prohibited Moldovan fruit after the country signed an association agreement with the EU.

Russia Bans Polish Apples


Poles respond to ban with twitter campaign

Russia takes McDonalds to court to ban the Big Mac
posted by St. Peepsburg (56 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Enjoy the sanctions, asshole.

I'd say assholes, but it's abundantly clear that, in Russia, there's only one opinion that matters anymore
posted by leotrotsky at 11:34 AM on July 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


No Georgian wine? Your loss, mac.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:38 AM on July 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


Oh, so they do the same thing the US does to various countries they don't like?

Bought anything from Cuba in the last 50 years?
posted by CrowGoat at 11:39 AM on July 31, 2014 [13 favorites]




Are you ready for nuclear war?
posted by colie at 11:40 AM on July 31, 2014


Oh, so they do the same thing the US does to various countries they don't like?

Bought anything from Cuba in the last 50 years?


There's a difference between political sanctions being used as political sanctions and manipulating the health code to fit your political agenda. If people are using food safety regulations to further their own political ends, that has the potential to get real bad real fast.

I'd like to buy stuff from Cuba and I'd LOVE to go there and I think it's dumb I can't, but this comparison isn't really fair.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 11:42 AM on July 31, 2014 [13 favorites]


Bought anything from Cuba in the last 50 years?

Point taken, but the US actually calls its embargo an embargo.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:43 AM on July 31, 2014 [13 favorites]


Oh, so they do the same thing the US does to various countries they don't like?

*cough*
posted by Sys Rq at 11:47 AM on July 31, 2014 [21 favorites]


colie, that article you linked has a lot of inherent biases. It also discounts the mountains of evidence that point to separatist responsibility, and the mountains of evidence that point to significant Russian influence on those separatists.

There are also a lot of opinions and conclusions that are presented as established fact, so, you know. Grain of salt and all that.
posted by truex at 11:52 AM on July 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


Bought anything from Cuba in the last 50 years?

Actually, yes. On a visit to Montreal.

It was pretty disappointing.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:55 AM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Truex - the article colie linked to may have some biases, but I gotta be honest, I'm someone who came of age during the Cold War and this is all starting to look reaaaaaaaaaally familiar.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:56 AM on July 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


At least the US is honest about it. If they don't agree with the politics, they ban.

Russia is all "oh noes improperly labelled apples"


But why Polish apples? What did Poland have to do with it? Oh yeah. Their foreign minister warned the international community about a potential airstrike:

“These are mobile rockets whose sale is governed by international rules and they are forbidden from being supplied to non-state groups, because that creates the possibility of the proliferation of these kinds of weapons, which creates a danger to civil aviation around the world,” Mr Sikorski said, speaking two days before an anti-aircraft missile shot down a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 over eastern Ukraine, killing all 295 aboard.


(emphasis mine)

another quote July 19, 2014:

“We recall that during his visit to Kyiv last Tuesday, Minister Radosław Sikorski said that the fact that pro-Russian separatists were reported to be armed with advanced surface-to-air missiles represented the greatest concern in the current state of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. This point was addressed in an MFA press release issued after the minister’s visit to Kyiv.”
posted by St. Peepsburg at 11:56 AM on July 31, 2014 [7 favorites]


Russia has banned grains of salt from MetaFilter. Reports they are considering beans as well.
posted by Kabanos at 11:57 AM on July 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


I wasn't aware of Russia's long involvement with these types of bans until now, but I do find it very interesting to hear more about.

The welfare of most nations seems so inherently tied to being an active participant in a global economy, and I've long wondered what the potential for ramifications would be for large countries involved in escalating tensions given these financial ties.

(I feel for the Polish farmers and independent operators of McDonalds (not so much for MCD corp.), but I more fervently hope this doesn't escalate in the United States... primarily because given the reaction to France around 9/11, I'd hate to see the moronic push to rename Smirnoff Vodka: "Freedom Juice" or some such idiocy.

Grain of salt and all that.

Not that I patently disagree with everything presented in the article... it does posit a fair amount of questions worth asking, but as soon as I saw the full site name: "World Socialist Web Site", I made sure to grab the Morton's.
posted by Debaser626 at 12:06 PM on July 31, 2014


Yeah I try to espouse cultural relativism / post modernism wherever I can but invading countries and arming militia doesn't get my middle moral stance. (not that the US hasn't done that either; but here I can play my Canadian card a little and also the US has (hopefully?) cleaned up its act in the past 40 years)


Smirnoff Freedom Juice. that's funny. Like how they call 1oz coke* with 4oz rum a Cuba Libre.

*not actual Coke, but Cola Brand Drink


FWIW Cuban rum is hands down the best. Like tears of drunken baby angels.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:16 PM on July 31, 2014


Some interesting facts/numbers from 2012:
• Poland passes China as largest apple exporter.
• Russia is viewed worldwide as the greatest apple importer.
Last season 2012/13, Russia again grew and imported around 4 million tonnes. Poland is the main supplier and is also the country which has filled the gap in the Russian market. Imports from Poland accounted for 60%, more than 750.000 tonnes. Last season, next to Russia, Germany is second on the list with an import of just under 500,000 tons.

Sort of glossed over in some of the articles focusing on the apple twitter thing is that the ban actually "will apply to virtually all vegetables and fruits, such as apples, pears, quince, cherry, sweet cherry and cabbage, all fresh-refrigerated vegetables." Polish exporter sez: "We will focus on other markets, when Russia comes back there will be no more apples for them".

How will the embargo on European, Moldovan and Ukrainian apples influence the Russian market? Officials foresee an inevitable lack of supply, and consequently, a rapid price rise.
posted by Kabanos at 12:18 PM on July 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


In related news: Russia tightens controls on blogosphere.

"Popularly known as the "law on bloggers," the legislation requires users of any website whose posts are read by more than 3,000 people each day to publish under their real name and register with the authorities if requested. /.../ Violators could incur fines of up to 50,000 rubles (£800) and be blacklisted."

MeFi is safe, though: "If you post kitten pics, speak in a civilized manner and publish no classified information, you may never be required [to register], even if you have a daily audience of 1 million visitors."
posted by effbot at 12:19 PM on July 31, 2014


I'm someone who came of age during the Cold War and this is all starting to look reaaaaaaaaaally familiar.

As someone who also came of age during the Cold War, I don't see it. Economic sanctions weren't particularly meaningful during the Cold War because the Western and Communist economies were largely separate spheres. Russia could do whatever the hell it pleased in Ukraine or in any of its satellites without the West doing much more than tsk tsk. Where conflicts heated up was in the various conflicts-by-proxy (of which, of course, Vietnam was the most violent).

No, this seems like a canonically post-Cold-War conflict to me. Born of the break-up of the USSR and carrying all the hallmarks of the radically changed relationship between Western and Eastern Europe that that brought about.
posted by yoink at 12:25 PM on July 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


If you post kitten pics, speak in a civilized manner and publish no classified information, you may never be required [to register]

They'd never have tolerated this kind of miaoist deviationism in the good old days.
posted by yoink at 12:26 PM on July 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


Comrade Kitten and General Meow
posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:30 PM on July 31, 2014


Why, by the way, does the World Socialist Web Site want to carry water for a radically anti-socialist thug like Putin anyway? Is it just the enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend logic or some kind of weird nostalgia for Old Left "Russia is the Good Guy / the US is the Bad Guy" party-line thinking or what?
posted by yoink at 12:33 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think they can criticize the US without being pro-Russia.

But I don't think Time magazine et.al. need CIA handholding to denounce the killing of a couple hundred air passengers. Rather, they'd have to be forcibly restrained to not write an editorial on the subject.

(I skimmed part of the article; are there more substantial chunks to it?)
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:38 PM on July 31, 2014


I think they can criticize the US without being pro-Russia.

It's not the "criticizing the US" part I'm puzzled by, it's the "LEAVE PUTIN ALONE!" part. The idea that there's no serious evidence implicating Russian and separatist involvement in shooting down the plane is just risible.
posted by yoink at 12:42 PM on July 31, 2014 [2 favorites]







Why, by the way, does the World Socialist Web Site want to carry water for a radically anti-socialist thug like Putin anyway?


Same reason FARC kept on immiserating Colombia long after they lost the ideological battle:

They have to eat.
posted by ocschwar at 1:25 PM on July 31, 2014


radically anti-socialist thug like Putin

Glad to hear Putin's officially a thug. We've had a few of those to get rid of lately.

He's just a skilled politician overseeing 'managed democracy' in Russia so that ruling elites in that country, and - perhaps more significantly - ruling elites in Europe and the US banks can funnel money upwards as usual. Ruling elites always fall out with each other sooner or later.
posted by colie at 1:32 PM on July 31, 2014


colie, you're proposing a financial conspiracy between the Russian political establishment and the EU/US in spite of the fact that recent economic sanctions stand to financially hurt everybody involved.

Do you have any evidence?
posted by truex at 2:03 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


> He's just a skilled politician overseeing 'managed democracy' in Russia so that ruling elites in that country, and - perhaps more significantly - ruling elites in Europe and the US banks can funnel money upwards as usual.

You're not serious, are you? Putin is a KGB guy who will do/authorize anything whatever to stay in power; he's practically the definition of a thug. To call him "just a skilled politician" may satisfy your desire for snark but says nothing meaningful about the real world.
posted by languagehat at 2:08 PM on July 31, 2014 [10 favorites]


Glad to hear Putin's officially a thug.

He never wasn't. They don't call him the Butcher of Grozny for nothing.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:13 PM on July 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


a financial conspiracy between the Russian political establishment and the EU/US


London is practically floating on Russian money and the US banks are everywhere in Russia. It's far worse than a silly conspiracy.

Putin is a KGB guy who will do/authorize anything whatever to stay in power;

The first Bush president had previously been the head of the CIA. Any politician will do/authorise whatever to stay in power, or else - guess what? - they don't stay in power!

I've never met him and so words like 'thug' add nothing to political understanding.
posted by colie at 2:19 PM on July 31, 2014


The market had a bit of a day today. Tensions in Argentina and Russia were explicitly called out, Israel and the Ebola crisis have to be on the back of people's minds as well.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 2:38 PM on July 31, 2014


As Kabanos noted, Poland is a big apple producer. And they freaking know their stuff, Polish apples are probably the best I ever had. I recommend Polish paper apples "papierowka".
posted by travelwithcats at 2:53 PM on July 31, 2014


The problem with your assertions, colie, is that the economic ties between Russia and US/UK/EU only stand to be harmed by current actions. If Putin's actions were designed to further the financial power of ruling elites then they are doing the exact opposite of working, which belies your (correct) claim that Putin is a savvy politician.
posted by truex at 2:57 PM on July 31, 2014


He's just a skilled politician overseeing 'managed democracy' in Russia so that ruling elites in that country, and - perhaps more significantly - ruling elites in Europe and the US banks can funnel money upwards as usual. Ruling elites always fall out with each other sooner or later.

Why would being a "skilled politician" prevent him from being a "thug"? And why, still, if he's just the same as the Western leaders you deplore are the WSWS carrying water for him? Why do they see it as so important to ignore all the evidence implicating the Russians and the separatist forces in the Ukraine to defend the guy who is, according to you, protecting the interests of the European ruling elites? Are you suggesting that the WSWS is actually a mouthpiece for the European elites?
posted by yoink at 4:35 PM on July 31, 2014


It would be wonderful if Putin were to make a controlled descent from power. Presently the US and the EU are only strengthening his position internally. And soon it will be winter.
posted by dmh at 4:47 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


> The first Bush president had previously been the head of the CIA. Any politician will do/authorise whatever to stay in power, or else - guess what? - they don't stay in power!

Deep! Bush, Obama, Putin, Hitler, Genghis Khan, Mandela—they're all the same! Why have I never realized this before?
posted by languagehat at 5:31 PM on July 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


Presidents in the us tend to step down after eight years.
posted by empath at 8:07 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


The idea as Genghis Khan as a politician, which is unassailable, just gave me a little twitch in the brain department. So thank you for that, it is a feeling I enjoy.

My daughter has the Mongolian spot thing, so Genghis and I are practically related.
posted by Wolof at 7:10 AM on August 1, 2014




Russia is viewed worldwide as the greatest apple importer.

So, do Russians just really like apples? Or is it that they have a taste for apples and just don't produce any domestically, unlike other apple-loving countries? I'm curious.

I'd imagine that apples are pretty much a fungible good on the global marketplace these days, like any other agricultural commodity. (Apples are pretty long-lived in terms of produce, especially refrigerated...) So if Russia bans Polish apples, and therefore -- if Russians like apples that much, presumably they're going to get them somewhere else -- increases demand for Chinese apples, the price for Chinese apples will go up and Polish ones will go down, and US and German and other don't-give-a-shit buyers will end up with the Polish ones.

It will probably suck for the Poles, because it figures they would have ended up with more profit selling to the Russians right next-door than having to ship them internationally, but I doubt they'll really end up with that much of a surplus (unless the transportation infrastructure to get them to other markets is just lacking). And in scrambling to get their products onto the global market, they'll be forced to distance themselves that much further from Russia.

And the Russians will end up with second-rate Chinese apples.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:24 AM on August 1, 2014




Is it just me, or is Russia actively trying to screw with democracy? I'm seriously scared of what Russia is becoming. Where is the pushback?
posted by saysthis at 9:20 PM on August 2, 2014






Russia: strange bedfellows, stranger degrees of separation
To quote from the Slavophiles’ favorite 19th Century poem by Fyodor Tyutchev: “You can’t grasp Russia with the mind.”
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:34 PM on August 4, 2014


Next up, beef and cattle imports from Romania banned. The article also notes that the Russian central bank warned that the various bans on importing cheap products could make it harder to control inflation. Not sure how higher prices will affect Putin's popularity. But maybe he figures it's easier to squeeze higher taxes out of Russian companies (beneficiaries of the higher prices) than to directly raise taxes on the general population.
posted by Kabanos at 7:26 AM on August 6, 2014


Regarding "food safety" bans vs. sanctions vs. embargoes: Looks like Putin is making it official that food import bans are counter-sanctions, and more are to come. Russian blogosphere freaking out a bit apparently.
posted by Kabanos at 9:18 AM on August 6, 2014






Welp, there go the last remnants of Western support Putin might have enjoyed.

(Share that link with your Fox News uncle.)
posted by Sys Rq at 2:17 PM on August 10, 2014




Sergey Aleksashenko, Macroeconomic Research Director, State University – Higher School of Economics: "The best way to mitigate the effects of these sanctions is to cancel them."

Impact of Food Sanctions on Russian Consumers.
posted by Kabanos at 2:18 PM on August 21, 2014




Poland has too many apples it seems. Last week they were handing out free apples at Leroy Merlin. Tasty apples, yum.
But I see the article mentions the idea is spearheaded by a retailing group (they operate Intermarche and Netto in Poland IIRC), and not even a decided matter yet.
posted by travelwithcats at 12:03 PM on August 25, 2014


I hope that eventually leads to Kaliningrad seceding from Russia, if only because disjointed bits of map like that drive me bonkers. It'd totally be worth it!

I'm a little afraid, however, that stories like that one will, perhaps not so coincidentally, lead to the conclusion that the Kaliningrad border is much too porous and will therefore require the Russian military to amass along it. Then it's hello giant hovercrafts, and goodbye Lithuania.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:50 PM on August 25, 2014


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