Russia considers prison time for foreign food smuggling

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian customs officials have drafted a bill to make the smuggling of banned foreign foods an offense punishable by a prison sentence.

In retaliation to Western sanctions, Russia last year banned certain food imports from the European Union, the U.S. and a few other countries. President Vladimir Putin this month ordered the destruction of confiscated contraband food, with hundreds of tons of fruit and cheese steamrolled and burnt in a public display of the ban enforcement.

The Federal Customs Service published a draft bill Thursday suggesting that banned foreign foods be listed as "strategically imported," a label so far reserved for radioactive materials and poison. The re-classification would allow authorities to bring criminal charges, with prison terms of up to seven years, against individuals and companies involved in smuggling.