Poles bite back over Russian fruit ban

Thousands take to eating apples in Twitter campaign

Poles have shown their support for local farmers by posting selfies of themselves eating  apples on Twitter

Poles have shown their support for local farmers by posting selfies of themselves eating apples on Twitter

 

An apple a day keeps the doctor away; a Polish apple a day keeps Vladimir Putin annoyed – and Polish farmers in business. That is the idea behind an unusual online protest in Poland, days after Russia announced a ban on Polish fruit and vegetable imports – including apples – for “sanitary reasons”.

Poland’s agriculture minister Marek Sawicki has described the ban as “political repression”, a tit-for-tat response to EU sanctions against Russia over its involvement in the Ukraine crisis – a claim Moscow denies. Now thousands of Poles have shown their support for local farmers by posting selfies of themselves eating Polish apples on Twitter. Their hope: to take the bite out of the export ban. The campaign began when journalist Grzegorz Nawacki posted an image using the hashtag #jedzjablka, meaning “eat apples”.

Exported

The hashtag began trending with a Facebook page dedicated to the movement garnering more than 33,000 likes.

Poland is the world’s largest apple exporter, a market worth over €430 million, with more than half of that total going to Russia. Also hit by the ban is the country’s exports in pears, plums, cherries, apricots, peaches, nectarines and quinces. “The infringements of [sanitary] requirements quoted by the Russian party in relation to the temporary ban on Polish products did not occur,” said Poland’s agriculture ministry after the ban.

Mr Sawicki has called on the European Commission for compensation as a result of the ban, saying resulting losses could total euro €500 million.

Polish media have reported that Moscow may be preparing to ban beef and poultry imports from Poland following Russian claims that health officials had detected dangerous bacteria in Polish meat.

Food ban

Last year Russia banned imports of Ukrainian chocolate, seen as an attempt to pressure the country from signing an EU association agreement. The ban hit Ukrainian chocolate companies hard, particularly market leader Roshen, controlled by billionaire Petro Poroschenko.

A year on, Mr Poroschenko is now Ukrainian president. How do you like them apples?