Russia removes Western detergents from supermarkets
It looks as if Russian authorities are trying to outperform one another in their campaign against all things Western. They have burned Dutch flowers, bulldozed cheese of unknown origin, and destroyed apples and carrots. On Tuesday, they came for Western-brand detergents.
The Russian consumer safety watchdog, Rospotrebnadzor, has ordered that supermarkets and stores remove from their shelves some products of major foreign companies, including Colgate-Palmolive, Procter & Gamble and Henkel. It claimed that the detergents, fabric softeners and other cleaning products contain toxic ingredients and pose health risks. Individual shipments that do not conform to Russian sanitary norms are being removed from stores, the agency declared in a statement.
The brands are among the most popular in the Russian market. Some of the detergents affected by the order are imported, but others are actually produced in the foreign companies' facilities in Russia — one of which, a Henkel plant in the Perm region, is being inspected by authorities.
In April, Russia banned some cleaning products of international brands produced in Ukraine, saying they can pose danger to consumers’ health. Authorities burned Dutch flower imports this month saying they were infested with insects.
Last year, Russian authorities started a wave of sanitary inspections targeting McDonald’s, checking more than 200 restaurants and closing some of them. The very first McDonald’s in Moscow was closed but later reopened.
In response to international sanctions after the annexation of Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula last year, Russia banned imports of food such as fruits, vegetables, fish or dairy products from Western countries. Earlier this month, authorities started to publicly burn and destroy Western food smuggled to Russia, prompting anger and unease among some in a country that has experienced famine in its recent history.
The move against the detergents has prompted outrage and sarcasm. Even pro-government anchor Vladimir Solovyov wrote on Twitter: “Who got disturbed by the foreign detergents !!!!!!! Should we go back to chlorine and laundry soap again? Is there a limit to this enthusiasm?”
The crackdown on Western products has given birth to some ridiculous incidents in Russia. A man from the far-eastern port of Vladivostok claimed in interviews with Russian media that he called police because he suspected that his neighbors were eating “Polish geese” and smoking “Dutch tobacco." He said he had seen an Internet video that purported to show three frozen geese from Europe being destroyed by a bulldozer. “And then I saw a similar label in the rubbish of my neighbors,” he told the Russian radio station Govorit Moskva. He didn’t remember, however, what the police said in response because he was drunk while making this call, he added.