Russian fish ban 'may' be lifted in two weeks

The Russian authorities over two weeks will examine documents submitted by the Latvian Food and Veterinary Service (PVD) and then Russia may lift its current ban on imports of fish and fish products from Latvia, Russian Agriculture Ministrer Alexander Tkachev said in a statement Wednesday.

"In the course of two weeks, we will examine the materials submitted by the Latvian colleagues and if there are no discrepancies, the restrictions will be lifted," Tkachev is quoted in the statement as saying.

Tkachev on Wednesday met with Latvian Agriculture Minister Janis Duklavs in Moscow.

On Tuesday Duklavs and PVD general director Maris Balodis met with representatives of the Russian Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (Rosselkhoznadzor) which slapped the bans on fish from Latvia and Estonia.

Balodis told BNS after the meeting that representatives of the Russian food authority had promised not to delay the process and analyze the information as soon as it was translated into Russian - which apparently had not been done in advance of the visit.

Rosselkhoznadzor banned imports of fresh and canned fish from Latvia and Estonia on June 4 this year. Violations of veterinary and sanitary requirements discovered by Rosselkhoznadzor inspectors were cited as the reason for ban.

However, geopolitical tensions often also appear to play a role in the agency's decisions, as evidenced by a recent ban on Dutch tulips when the Netherlands criticised Russia for its role in the downing of a civilian airliner over Ukraine a year ago.

As of August 1, five Latvian fish canneries are banned from exporting their products to Russia.

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