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Why the Russian Government Keeps Destroying Western Foods

Not everyone in the country agrees with the move.

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

The Russian government really hates imported cheese and foods from the West, but  only half of the country's population seems to agree with that stance. The Russian government banned the import of foods from the West in retaliation to economic sanctions last year. (The Russian government also punished McDonald's locations in the country by shutting certain outposts down or forcing them to undergo surprise inspections.) However, local residents have a penchant for a number of the foods, especially French cheeses, and have found ways to illegally import them, but the government has recently cracked down and started destroying the foods, especially cheese.

According to the Atlantic, a poll recently showed that only 46 percent of Russians favored the destruction of banned foods while 44 percent were opposed to the idea. Another poll showed that only 40 percent supported the destruction of banned foods, and that 48 percent were opposed to it. Regardless, the Russian government will throw a person in jail for seven years for importing a wheel of brie: "French cheese is apparently now just as dangerous to the security of the state as polonium, uranium, assault weapons, and dirty bombs." So why does Russia insist on being so tough on banned Western foods if half of the country doesn't agree?

In a way, notes the Atlantic, it is just one big "post-imperial temper tantrum": "Russia's leaders want their empire back, dammit, and if they can't have it they're going to smash their dinner plate on the floor and trash their room." This ban and destruction of Western foods is isolating Russia from the global economy — which would likely lead to a drop in living standards — but maybe that's just what the government wants. While the economy will deteriorate, the country will become a (fancy cheese-less) autarky.