How dairy! Russian cheese smuggler caught with bootful

MOSCOW: Russian customs officials said Monday they had foiled a bid to smuggle nearly half a tonne of cheese into the country from the European Union, whose food is subject to retaliatory sanctions.

A man attempted to drive from Poland into the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad with 460 kilogrammes of cheese stuffed in the trunk and backseat of his car, the customs service said.

"The Kalingradian said he was not transporting goods for commercial purposes," it said in a statement.

"He knew about the rules but did not respect them, hoping that customs officers would not check his vehicle."

Last August, Russia banned the import of dairy products, meat and produce from the European Union (EU) and other Western countries to retaliate against sanctions imposed on Moscow over the Ukraine crisis.

Last month, President Vladimir Putin ordered the embargo be extended until June of next year.

Russians have been allowed to bring small quantities of products hit by the ban into the country but only for personal consumption.

Administrative procedures have been launched against the smuggler and the cheese has been returned to Poland, the customs service said.

Seizures of illegal goods have become common occurences since the embargo came into force. Last August, Russian border guards confiscated 70 kg of French meat pâté from tourists who had tried to bring it into Russia via Finland.

In October, border guards seized some 600 tonnes of European meat that had been concealed under packages of gum and marmalade.