Russian soldiers who stole cherries from Ukrainian farmers in the Russian-occupied Ukrainian city of Melitopol have suffered from poisoning, the city’s mayor Ivan Fedorov said.
According to the mayor, Ukrainian farmers had laced their produce with poison so that the fruit would induce “mass illness” among the Russians when they stole them.
“Our farmers prepared another gift for the Rashists … recently treated sweet cherries, which caused mass illness among those who stole them from the farmers. It’s the latest kind of partisan resistance on the territory of Melitopol,” Fedorov told local reporters on Thursday, according to the Ukrainian Independent Information Agency of News.
“Rashists” — a portmanteau combining “Russians” and “fascists” — is a neologism coined by Ukrainian officials to refer to Russian soldiers, their leadership and their supporters.
Russians have plundered the territories they occupied in Ukraine, stealing the vegetables, grain and metal therein, Fedorov said, according to UNIAN. According to Fedorov, the theft of sweet cherries from Melitopol is part of such pillaging of Ukrainian lands.
The Russian occupation recently resumed exports of Melitopol sweet cherries to Russian-annexed Crimea in southern Ukraine, the city’s Russian-appointed head Andriy Siguta said, according to the Interfax news agency.
“Now the sweet cherry harvest is underway. The harvest was a success. Negotiations were held with the Crimean leadership, an unhindered supply of sweet cherry to Crimea was organized,” Siguta told reporters on June 10, the Interfax news agency reported.
During times of good harvest, Melitopol cherry was sold at a wholesale per-kilogram price of 45-100 Ukrainian hryvnias ($1.52-$3.39), Interfax reported, citing local official Yuri Volzhanin.
However, under present conditions and the Russian occupation, Ukrainian farmers were forced to sell their produce at a per-kilogram rate of 10-15 Ukrainian hryvnias (34 cents -51 cents),” Volzhanin said, according to Interfax.
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The last time sweet cherries from Melitopol made their way to Crimea was in 2014, when Ukraine prohibited sales after Russia occupied the peninsula, Interfax reported.
Russian ships have recently been spotted ferrying stolen Ukrainian grain overseas, Fortune reported. The stolen produce has reportedly been exported to countries such as Syria, according to Fortune.
U.S. intelligence has confirmed the existence of credible reports confirming that Russia had been stealing Ukrainian harvests, the magazine reported.
During a June 9 news conference in Turkey, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov dodged questions from a Ukrainian journalist on Russia’s theft of Ukrainian agricultural produce.
“I am from Ukrainian public television, I absolutely want to ask a question!” Ukrainian reporter Muslim Umerov told Lavrov towards the end of the news conference, The Guardian reported. Lavrov was reportedly embarrassed by the question.
“Apart from cereals, what other goods did you steal from Ukraine and who did you sell them to?” Umerov asked.
“You Ukrainians are always worried about what you can steal, and you think everyone thinks that way,” Lavrov answered, smiling, according to The Guardian.
“Our goals there are clear, we want to save people from the pressure of the neo-Nazi regime,” Lavrov continued, regurgitating Russian lies about the existence of a neo-nazi regime in Ukraine.
“We are not obstructing the grain. In order for it to leave the ports, Mr. Zelenskiy must give the order, that’s all,” Lavrov claimed.