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Russian authorities propose prison time for smuggling of foreign food, equating it to poison

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MOSCOW — Russian customs officials have drafted a bill to make the smuggling of banned foreign foods an offense punishable by a prison sentence.

In retaliation to Western sanctions, Russia last year banned certain food imports from the European Union, the U.S. and a few other countries. President Vladimir Putin this month ordered the destruction of confiscated contraband food, with hundreds of tons of fruit and cheese steamrolled and burnt in a public display of the ban enforcement.

The Federal Customs Service published a draft bill Thursday suggesting that banned foreign foods be listed as "strategically imported," a label so far reserved for radioactive materials and poison. The re-classification would allow authorities to bring criminal charges, with prison terms of up to seven years, against individuals and companies involved in smuggling.

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