Russia has banned pork imports from Belarus, in a sign of a brewing trade war that has its roots in a dispute about Belarus’ arrest of a Russian businessman on abuse of office charges.
Russia’s veterinary agency told the Interfax news agency Friday that the pork ban will go into effect, officially because Belarus has taken insufficient steps to control African swine plague.
Russia has already begun to limit oil deliveries to its smaller neighbour and has threatened to stop importing milk from Belarus which faces many sanctions from Western countries because of human rights concerns, is heavily dependent upon trade with Russia.
Experts say that the moves to block trade are linked to Belarus’ decision on Monday to arrest Vladislav Baumgertner, chief executive of potash producer Uralkali. He was arrested after being invited to a meeting with Belarusian Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich.
Baumgertner will stay behind bars for at least two months while an investigation continues. He may face other charges, Pavel Traulko, a spokesman for the Belarusian Investigative Committee, has said. The decision was made without a court order.
Baumgertner is accused of running an illegal price scheme, together with other Uralkali executives, that cost the country some 100 million dollars.