Russia bans meat products at Lithuanian checkpoints

  • 2005-09-21
  • From wire reports
VILNIUS - Russia on Sept. 13 imposed a ban on meat products made in non-EU countries being shipped through Lithuanian territory, causing an unexpected build-up of perishable produce at border checkpoints.

By the end of the week, Russia promised to lift the ban, though certain restrictions would remain.

The ban did not apply to Lithuanian products.

Russia's Veterinary and Phytosanitary Service cited false transit documents as the basis for the sudden ban, though the Lithuanian Customs Department said that documents had been in order.

An official with Lithuania's State Food and Veterinary Service said that Russian inspectors had found several false French certificates during an inspection of Lithuanian companies. French authorities, however, denied that the documents had been forged in their country.

According to the Russian veterinary services' data, 1,998 tons of pork from China, 1,263 tons of beef from the United States and 190 tons of beef from Canada were imported via Lithuania this year.

Moreover, over 141,000 tons of meat products have been delivered to Russia by transit via Lithuanian territory, the Baltic News Service reported.

By Sept. 16, Russia had agreed to accept some 400 tons of perishable products that have accumulated at the border. Kazimieras Lukauskas, director of the Lithuanian State Food and Veterinary Service, said, "We have agreed that the trucks waiting for respective permits at the border would be checked and allowed into the country. Each of these trucks carries approximately 20 tons of perishable products. Now we have about 20 trucks, which were unaware of the ban, at the border."

Later that day it was reported Russia would drop the ban, though certain restrictions would remain in place.

At a Sept. 13 meeting between Lithuanian, Russian and European Commission officials, the three sides agreed that the Baltic state would tighten its controls on the transit of animal-origin products. They also agreed that the investigation would be closed. State Food and Veterinary Service officials and the European Commission will provide the conclusions of the investigation later this week.

"Principally, we have agreed on effective exchange of information about cargo shipments between EU Member states and Russia. Moreover, Lithuania shall provide additional guarantees concerning the control of shipments being delivered to Russia by transit via Lithuania," Lukauskas said in a press release.