Cheeseheads of the world, it’s time to mourn. Earlier this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered literal tons of imported European cheese, meats, and produce to be bulldozed and incinerated. While I grab us some tissues, I’ll let NPR tell the story:
In a highly publicized move, Russia is destroying tons of food that was illegally imported from Western countries. One year after a ban on Western agricultural products began, bulldozers and incinerators reportedly are being used to enforce the prohibition.
The ban was a response to economic sanctions enacted by the U.S. and its European allies over Russia’s attempts to exert its influence on neighboring Ukraine.
The destruction of contraband food has sparked protests and criticism in a country that has been hit by inflation and a rising poverty rate, which now stands at 16 percent (as CNN Money reported last month).
Parmesan and Dutch cheese, Spanish ham, fruits, vegetables — news reports show all of it going under the wheels of steamrollers and into the flames of incinerators on Thursday.
Putin required the foods to be destroyed in front of witnesses to “preclude corruption,” NPR says. To see part of the cheese massacre yourself, check out the video, above.
Turophile tears aside, it’s horrifying to see so much food wasted when nearly 23 million Russians are living beneath the poverty line. As of Friday, nearly 323,000 people have signed a Change.org petition asking the government to give the forbidden foods to the country’s poor.
According to NPR, despite nationwide criticism, Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov defends Putin’s order, saying that the contraband foods, which were relabeled and smuggled into Russia, could pose health risks. Meanwhile, we bet folks in Russia are wishing Putin would stop being such a munster and just let it brie.