Russian customs don't play around when it comes to cheese smuggling. And one man learned that the hard-cheese way on Wednesday 9 August when he was caught red-handed by Russian customs trying to smuggle Finnish dairy products into the country.
He wasn't only trying to smuggle in a pocketful of cheese. He was carrying 100kg of Finnish Oltermanni, a sort of creamy Muenster which is really popular in Scandinavian countries. According to the Finnish publication Yle Uutiset, he had concealed the cheese in his Volkswagen Caravelle.
He packed the illicit goods into the structure of his vehicle: a small compartment within the doors of the car, and what appears to be the rear end of the vehicle above a tire.
In an official statement, one of the border guards said: "During the inspection of the vehicle we found a cache disguised as a fuel tank, which contained 67 pieces of cheese sealed in packs and weighing about 100 kilograms."
It was the man's stinking behaviour, not the cheese, that prompted a search by customs officials of the car. In a statement, Russian customs explained that the man failed to declare he had any cheese at the Nuijamaa crossing point on the border between Finland and Russia. He was acting nervously so authorities decided to search the car. As a result, the cheese was confiscated.
Since 2014, Russia has banned imports from the EU, the US, Canada, Australia and Norway. The sanctions are a retaliation over these countries' own economic sanctions, which took effect the same year, after Russia annexed Crimea during the Ukraine crisis.
The Russian ban on exports from the EU includes a range of different products including dairy. On 29 June, 2016, Russia decided to extend the existing sanctions until the end of 2017. Currently, about 5 kilos of cheese is allowed to be brought per person into Russia under the sanctions.
It's not the first time people have tried to smuggle European cheese into Russia. In August 2015, Russian police intercepted a ring of "international cheese smugglers" that earned around £20m selling unauthorised Western cheese in St Petersburg and Moscow.
A police bust found about 470 tonnes of cheese branded with famous Western labels. Six peple were arrested, including two ring leaders. It is not clear whether the man who tried to smuggle 99kg of Oltermanni was arrested. But his vehicle was seized by border control.