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Lukashenka: In Food Quality, Russia Trails Belarus by a Half Century

A worker at a meat processing plant in Brest, Belarus, December 2, 2014

During a government conference in Minsk this week, Belarus president Alyaksandr Lukashenka termed groundless Russia’s complaints about the allegedly poor quality of Belarusian foodstuffs.

«With all due respect to Russia, they are 50 years behind Belarus in terms of food safety,» Lukashenka said.

His remarks follow Russia’s earlier move to ban meat and dairy imports from 23 Belarusian processing plants over sanitary concerns. Russian veterinary regulator Rosselkhoznadzor claimed that it had found traces of antibiotics and other harmful substances in the Belarusian imports.

For his part, Lukashenka accused Moscow of ulterior motives behind the ban.

«The main problem is that various kinds of crooks in Russia want to make money on the Russian market by jacking up prices. Shipments of Belarusian goods significantly restrain the growth in prices in Russia, and we know into whose hands this plays,» he said.

The Belarusian-Russian food squabble rises in the wake of Russia’s one-year ban on most foods from the United States, the European Union, Australia, Canada and Norway, instituted this past summer.

The row reflects Moscow’s concern that EU-made food products are being smuggled into the country from Belarus, either directly or as exports bound for Kazakhstan.