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Russia Takes Armenian Cheese for European and Halts Imports 

On October 31 2019, “Spayka” cargo transportation company released a statement that its trucks loaded with agricultural products requiring special maintenance conditions were stuck for 16 days at Upper Lars customs check-point of Russia with no certainty and answers on why the customs proceedings were delayed and the entry of the freight into the Russian Federation was not allowed.

Later, the Ministry of Economy released a statement that “the Ministry contacted the officials of the Northern Caucasus Customs office who informed that the temporary halting of entry was due to the fact that the risk management system found the freight risky from the perspective of belonging to commodities under “imports sanctions”. They informed that samples had been sent to laboratory analysis to determine the origin of the freight.”

On November 1 2019, the customs officers verbally notified the company that the freight, that being cheese, would not be allowed entry and would need to be returned to Armenia as the lab results emailed to them specified the origin of the cheese as “Armenia, Near East, South-Eastern Europe.” The company did not receive the official version of the lab tests, nor have they so far received an official justification for halting the customs crossing of “Spayka’s” trucks and freight.

Spayka, however, has appealed to North Ossetia’s Customs Service and Upper Lars Customs Checkpoint’s heads, Southern Transport Prosecutor, as well as Eurasian Economic Council’s Chairperson notifying that the cheese is produced in the new cheese production facility of the company, it possesses documents certifying the origin of the raw materials of the cheese and the packaging materials. Thus, the milk is procured from local dairy farmers from Armenia’s various regions, local water supplied through central urban water system is used, the packaging includes foil paper from Germany, plastic from Poland, cardboard from Russia, fermenting materials come from Denmark. The company has requested to consider the facts of its documents in making a final decision.

At the end of their statement, “Spayka” appealed to the government of Armenia to support in ensuring the unobstructed entry of the commodity of Armenian origin meeting European quality standards into the Eurasian Economic Union territory.