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Condoms to sprats: Nothing's safe from Russian ban

The list of Western products on Russia's retaliatory import ban has become longer and increasingly bizarre, with foreign condoms, Polish sprats and X-ray machines on the list of items facing the chop.

In response to western sanctions imposed on Russia for its annexation of Crimea last spring and role in the simmering separatist conflict in Ukraine, Moscow sought to get equal by banning foreign food imports from various European Union countries, Canada, Norway, Australia and the U.S.

In turn, Russia has been keen to promote home-grown produce against a backdrop of increasingly acrimonious relations with the West.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced that four more countries – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Albania and Montenegro – would be added to the list of countries whose meat, fish, dairy, fruit and vegetable products are banned.

A bulldozer crushes crates of foreign peaches outside the city of Novozybkov, about 600 km from Moscow, on August 7, 2015.
Stringer | AFP | Getty Images
A bulldozer crushes crates of foreign peaches outside the city of Novozybkov, about 600 km from Moscow, on August 7, 2015.

He also said Ukraine, Russia's arch-enemy currently, would also go on the list in 2016 if an economic agreement between the European Union and the country was implemented.

"We agreed to give [Ukraine] extra time — until Jan. 1 of next year — for decisions on questions over economic regulation," Medvedev said, according to the Moscow Times.

"After this period, if we cannot reach an agreement brokered by the European Union — and I see no signs of that — the earlier approved documents, which set … a food embargo for Ukraine, will come into force."

From bulldozing a mountain of imported cheese to burning boxes of bacon and flowers, seemingly no foreign good is safe from the zealous Russian authorities implementing the ban on foreign produce.

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Bizarre bans

Bans have ranged from the prosaic to the bizarre. On Thursday, Russia's consumer rights watchdog announced a ban on a certain type of canned fish – sprats -- from Poland. The latest prohibition is widely seen as politically motivated as Poland has been critical of Russia's policy in Ukraine.

In addition, a proposal was made by the Industry and Trade Ministry last week to ban imports of foreign condoms, as well as medical goods including bandages, crutches, sanitary pads and prosthetic devices, according to a list on the government's website.

Strangely enough, many Russians show they are generally open to the recent proposal to restrict imports of foreign-made condoms, according to a poll of 1,600 respondents across 46 regions in Russia released by an independent polling center on Thursday.

According to a Levada Center poll released on Thursday, 43 percent of respondents said they would support a proposal to ban imports of foreign condoms while 36 percent were against the move. When it came to proposals to ban medical goods, such as incubators and X-ray machines, however, 66 percent of respondents were against the move.

Not everyone is happy with the bans and outright destruction of goods. The highly-publicized destruction of goods has prompted a wave of criticism from anti-poverty campaigners, however, who say the food could feed the 16.1 million people living below the poverty line in Russia.

- By CNBC's Holly Ellyatt, follow her on Twitter @HollyEllyatt. Follow us on Twitter: @CNBCWorld