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Russian Lawmaker Proposes Import Ban on Coke & Pepsi

The leader of Russia's Party of Pensioners for Justice wants Russian counter-sanctions against the US expanded to its favorite drinks

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State Duma lawmaker Igor Zotov, the leader of Russia’s Party of Pensioners for Justice, has sent a petition to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev proposing a ban imports of Coca-Cola and Pepsi in addition to the current food import embargo, Russian media has said.

Zotov noted in his proposal that both the Coca-Cola Company and Pepsi Co. are big backers of the Democratic and Republican parties in the U.S. and as such, are supportive of sanctions against Russia.

“In support of the president’s and government’s actions regarding the countersanctions we suggest restricting imports of products made by the Coca-Cola and PepsiCo companies that are the main sponsors of respectively the Republican and Democratic parties of the United States, the active supporters of prolonged sanctions against the Russian Federation,” Zotov wrote in a letter to the Russian prime minister, Izvestia reported.

Coca-Cola and Pepsi are fairly unique among Western firms in that both companies managed to get their products onto the shelves of Russian stores long before the Soviet Union collapsed. Coca-Cola first appeared in Russia in 1980, just before the Moscow Olympics of that year, with its Orange Fanta drink arriving in the Gorbachev era. Pepsi has been around in Russia for even longer – since 1971 in fact – though it only became popular during the 1980 Olympics.

With the collapse of communism, Coca-Cola and Pepsi have become mainstays in Russian shops and restaurants just like they are in most other countries, but if Zotov has his way, their market dominance could be about to fizzle out.

No doubt any ban would be extremely controversial, but Zotov says this is about more than just politics. In his letter, he cites the well-known health risks of drinking Coca-Cola and Pepsi as another reason to consider an embargo. Both companies use high-fructose corn syrup as the main sweetener in their drinks, even though studies have shown it's twice as harmful as sugar. But public health in the US often tends to take a back seat where profits are concerned, and corn syrup is much cheaper than sugar due to the industry being so heavily subsidized by the government. Because of this, Zotov says that Coca-Cola and Pepsi products are extremely damaging to the health of Russians.

As a compromise, Zotov alternatively suggested that Coca-Cola and Pepsi could be allowed to continue operating in Russia, so long as they used only Russian-made ingredients certified by Russia's food safety agencies.

But Dmitry Petrov, head of Russia's Union of Soft Drink Producers, told Izvestia that both companies already use Russian water and sugar in their products, though he admitted the flavor comes from a secret ingredients imported from abroad. Petrov also warned that any ban on Coca-Cola and Pepsi could lead to a shortage of soft drinks in the country, because they currently account for a combined 40% of the domestic market.

Source: Izvestia via RT

Image credit: Batara via flickr.com

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