For Poles, apple-eating selfies are a raspberry to Putin's fruit ban
How do you like them apples? Polish social media users are sticking it to Russian President Vladimir Putin after Russia halted imports of Polish produce, ostensibly for quarantine reasons.
AP Photo/RIA Novosti Kremlin
A spokesman for Russiaâs Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance Service told Reuters that the restrictions on produce from Poland â a hawkish voice in the European debate over Ukraine â relate toÂ âthe violation of certification and the identification of quarantine productsâ and aren't a tit-for-tat diplomatic move.Â
But Poles arenât buying that. In a statement, Polandâs agriculture ministry said:Â "The embargo amounts to political repressionÂ in response to the sanctions imposed by the European Union againstÂ Russia.âÂ
As the worldâs largest apple exporter, Poland will be especially hard hit. ApproximatelyÂ 56 percent of its $587 millionÂ trade in apples was exported to Russia last year.
Now Poles on social media are using the hashtagÂ #jedzjabĹkaÂ which means âeat apples.â Itâs not just limited to fresh apples; think cider and apple desserts.
One user went so far as to take an apple-eating selfie in front of the Russian embassy:Â
According to Polish Radioâs English-language section, theÂ campaign started with a blog postÂ from business daily Puls Biznesu, âwhich calls Poles to âstand up to Putin.ââ The paper ran a spread the next day of various tweets and photos.
Polish Radio noted that Polish apples weren't the only fruit in peril. Russia has also targeted âpears, plums, cherries, apricots, peaches, nectarines and quinces.â
While the campaign may seem like a light-hearted way for Poles to show Mr. Putin their ire, Russia has said that it could encompass the entire EU, which sells over $2 billion worth of fruits and vegetables to Russia every year.
A day after the ban on Poland, Russia went after Ukraineâs fruit juices, specifically juice used forÂ fruit drinks for children. Russia said the move was intended âto protect the rights of consumers.â
Not the first food war
This isnât the first time Russia has turned to food products in disputes with its neighbors. In January, Russia targeted Polish and Lithuanian pork. The Financial Times reported that according to Russia, the pork ban wasÂ due to an outbreak of African swine fever. European officials claimed it was retaliation against these countries for supporting Ukraine and appealed to the World Trade Organization.Â
Other countries have been victims of Russiaâs capricious appetite. Last July Russia banned Ukrainian chocolates and desserts and Moldovan wine. Many read the moves as a message to both countriesÂ not to sign an association agreementÂ with the EU.Â
Ironically, the ban hit Ukrainian chocolate company Roshen especially hard. But its owner Petro Poroshenko had the last laugh: he's nowÂ Ukraine's president.Â