CAVIAR EXPORTS: RUSSIA FOR GOVERNMENT MONOPOLY?

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MOSCOW, February 22 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Cabinet will receive for consideration, by April's start, a draft bill to introduce government monopoly on caviar exports and enhance government control of sturgeon catch and procession.

"An ad hoc government commission today approved the concept of a law to enhance the state's role in sturgeon farming, fishing and procession, and control of those activities," Alexei Gordeyev, federal Agriculture Minister, said to the media. "The upcoming bill concerns many aspects of the matter. In particular, it envisages a strong state monopoly for fecund sturgeon roe exports."

As the commission sat in session today, it highlighted big underhand deals in sturgeon-related food turnover, and delved into what underlay the crimes. Black market produce spectacularly exceeds the authorized sturgeon catch ceiling, pointed out the minister.

"That was why we came to an accord on the key issue-the bill will demand produce confiscated from poachers processed into fishbone flour, as was the case in the Soviet years." As things are now, confiscated batches often find their way into the market without registration. Russia must finish with the practice, stressed Mr. Gordeyev.

Russia needs an international agreement with Iran, Kazakhstan and all other countries who catch and process sturgeon on monitoring and control of that field, the minister emphatically added.

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