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Border guards intercept cheese smuggler on Finnish-Russian frontier

Russia's embargo on imports of EU produce remain in place, as one man found on Wednesday when he tried to smuggle 99 kilogrammes of Finnish cheese over the border. Russian border guards found the dairy treats hidden in the man's Volkswagen Caravelle minibus.

Juustoja salakuljettajan autossa.
Russian Customs announced their interception on their website. Image: sztu.customs.ru

Russians apparently remain fans of Finnish dairy products, despite a three-year Russian ban on imports. On Wednesday Russian customs officials published pictures taken from the vehicle used by a cheese smuggler attempting to circumvent the restrictions, which limit imports to five kilogrammes of cheese.

The man had stashed 99 kilos of Finnish cheese, much of it apparently Valio's Oltermanni staple, in his minibus. He was attempting to enter Russia at the Nuijamaa border crossing when Russia's dairy-detecting border protectors found his milky hoard.

Russian customs said on their website that the man had not declared his cheesy cargo in writing, as is required by Russian law. The cheese was confiscated as it exceeded the five-kilo limit.

Embargo imposed

That limit was imposed when Russia slapped counter-sanctions on EU products in response to EU measures reacting to the annexation of Crimea. In addition to dairy products, there are limits on imports of meat, fish, fruit and vegetables.

The imposition of the embargo hit the Finnish dairy industry hard, with supermarkets flooded with cheap, Russian-labelled versions of popular Finnish cheese which were promptly christened 'Putin cheese' in the press.

This is not the first cheese smuggler to be apprehended heading east from Finland. In January Russia uncovered and confiscated 37 kilos of illicit cheese.

On Monday Russian authorities destroyed 1.5 tonnes of Polish agricultural products, while at the end of July some 20 tonnes of butter were destroyed in the southern Urals.

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