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Sprats for their pride: Kaliningrad has already given the Baltics the most effective and painful response for the humiliation of Russians

Photo: Vitaly Nevar/TASS

Photo: Vitaly Nevar/TASS

Riga, Vilnius and Tallinn received the quietest, but the most effective and painful blow for the humiliation of Russians from businessmen from Kaliningrad – they bought the national symbol of these republics – fish factories for a pittance, transported them to themselves and called them – “For the Motherland!”

THE MAGIC OF CANS

While in Russia they are sorting out options – how to respond to Lithuania and Latvia and Estonia that joined it with the transport blockade of Kaliningrad, it turned out that a method had long been found. Possibly the most efficient.

Which one?

Let’s go in order.

A couple of years ago, 30 trucks crossed the border of Lithuania and the Kaliningrad region. The trucks were loaded with an ultra-modern canning and fish processing plant made in Denmark for Latvia. The plant was bought at a bankruptcy auction and in the fall of 2021 it was successfully restarted in Russia.

On this, the adventures of the Baltic sprats in Russia ended – along with the equipment, our businessmen bought out the legendary trademarks …

No other product has provoked such fierce discussions in Russian society. Why did sprats become such a powerful irritant? Very simple. Through the efforts of the USSR, canned food from waste small fish – sprats and herrings, have become one of the most striking symbols of the holiday, home, comfort, family hearth. The only problem is that after the collapse of the Union, their production remained in countries that demonstrate their hatred of Russia. Therefore, not all fellow citizens, at the festive table, these sprats crawled into their mouths. Many got stuck.

Production of canned sprats at a factory in Tallinn, Estonian SSR, 1974. Photo: P. Kuznetsov / TASS Photo Chronicle

Production of canned sprats at a factory in Tallinn, Estonian SSR, 1974. Photo: P. Kuznetsov / TASS Photo Chronicle

An illustrative example: when in 2005 Komsomolskaya Pravda launched an “anti-sprat boycott” among the people in response to the trial of our veterans in Latvia and the persecution of the Russian language, the demand for Baltic canned food instantly sank. It got everyone hooked. Readers wrote to KP: “We, the staff of motorcade No. 5, from today, refuse Latvian sprats” or “I, a military pensioner, conduct personal campaigning against fascist sprats in our supermarket …”

The fall in demand was immediately noticed by the Baltic fishermen. And, for example, Latvians, through the local newspaper Diena, appealed to the government of their republic with a request to “change domestic policy.” They had something to worry about. In those years, the Baltic States supplied Russia with 130-150 million cans of canned fish per year. And Russia itself produced only 20 million. Our market was densely occupied with business from unfriendly countries, and everyone understood this. But, before the solution of the “sprat problem” was still far away. Of course, our market could be closed with a stroke of the pen. But how to replace the Baltic sprats, given that Russia consumes a railway car of smoked sprat per day?

HUNTING FOR SPRATS

Now, at bankrupt auctions in the Baltic republics, the last two “fish processing enterprises” are being sold – all the rest has already been taken to Russia. And no one needs them anymore. Prices for factories are set in rubles (!), which hints.

For example, in an advertisement for the sale of a plant for 182 million rubles, located 20 km. from Riga, it is indicated specifically: “There are permits from the EU and certification in Russia.” It is not clear who the sellers want to deceive. The EU has its own quotas, while the road for products from Latvia to Russia has long been closed.

It is curious that the “real Europeans” themselves helped to destroy the Baltic industry. After the exemplary murder of the famous Soviet enterprises of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant in Lithuania, VEF, Dzintars and Riga Carriage Building in Latvia, canned fish remained the last product that showed interest outside the Baltics. Sprats in the EU “left for dessert.”

This is not to say that I feel sorry for the Baltic states, just an illustrative example.

The former owner of the bankrupt plant, having seen those same legendary “Baltic sprats” to Kaliningrad, tried to explain why the largest enterprise that produced them, Kolumbija Ltd, the pride of Latvia, died so ingloriously. The first reason is Russian counter-sanctions. The Baltics needed to think twice before supporting an economic war against Russia. But not fate. Then, thanks to the European environmental frenzy, deductions for “green energy” were included in the cost of electricity. Then the dying enterprise simply stopped lending. Finally, according to the former owner of the sprat plant, Igor Krupnik, the business called “insolvency administration” has turned out to be very developed in the EU. “Riga Sprats” went bankrupt professionally, quickly and beautifully. We are happy. Because our Kaliningrad fish farm with the name “For the Motherland!” was able to buy the equipment of the second largest Baltic sprat plant Kuršu zeme 2-3 times cheaper than the cost. And there was some justice in that.

Kaliningrad.  Line for the production of sprats from the Baltic sprat at the fish processing plant "For the Motherland".  Photo: Vitaly Nevar/TASS

Kaliningrad. Line for the production of sprats from the Baltic sprat at the fish factory “For the Motherland”. Photo: Vitaly Nevar/TASS

TIME FOR SMART MOVES

In recent months, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have been struck to the very heart by absolutely humiliating news: “Riga sprats” made … in Russia have appeared on the shelves of the proud Russophobic republics!

I contacted Sergey Lutarevich, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the For the Motherland group of companies, and he confirmed this fact:

– Yes, but it was a one-time delivery. We do not work with the EU, it is difficult to imagine how to sell sprats in Berlin under the brand name “For the Motherland!”, We mainly supply products to Russia and the CIS. But, we still plan to enter the European market. With the help of factories purchased from our Baltic neighbors, we must produce 100 million cans of canned food a year!

My remark that, according to rumors from evil people, sprats for sprats are still supplied to Kaliningrad by the Baltic states, therefore sprats are not considered ours, the fisherman was amused:

– The Baltic is a common one! We do not need Lithuanian or Latvian raw materials at all, you understand! It is thanks to the sanctions that we were able to increase both production (it turns out that fishermen and miners have the same slang. – Author) and fish processing. Our fleet in Kaliningrad has been completely modernized! Plus, we began to work near St. Petersburg – in Ust-Luga, to catch herring there. Well, fishing in the Caspian Sea – 300 thousand tons of sprat were caught there in 2021. And before 20 years, it was not caught there at all. And the Black Sea “shot” with us – almost 20 thousand tons of sprat were caught, Crimean factories were loaded.

– Did the fishing industry remain in the Baltics at all? I asked, with some malice.

But my interlocutor was objective:

– In Latvia still there were five factories, while strong. They supply products to the European Union, which financed these plants. They still catch sprats. And now Lithuania sells part of its catch for fishmeal to Sweden and Denmark, as a raw material.

As Sergei Lutarevich noted with slight annoyance, our Baltic neighbors are still trying to find tricky moves and get into the Russian market:

– It remains only to wag a finger at the brothers-Belarusians, although I myself am a Belarusian and love them very much. But they began to carry Estonian herring at a reduced price, make smoked meat and drive semi-finished products to Russia, bypassing counter-sanctions. Boosting the Estonian economy…

But, objectively, even this herring will not save the Estonian economy and will not raise it. The train left, the “sprat war” that lasted 17 years ended in disgrace for the unreasonable neighbors. With “trophies” and “contribution”. And the maxim “Russophobia is expensive” was enriched with another striking example.

As a result, the “sprat war” that lasted 17 years ended in disgrace for the unreasonable neighbors.  With

As a result, the “sprat war” that lasted 17 years ended in disgrace for the unreasonable neighbors. With “trophies” and “contribution”. Photo: Vitaly Nevar/TASS

Chronicle of the “Fish War”

2005

Dozens of veterans of the Great Patriotic War have been convicted in the Baltic countries. Teaching in Russian is prohibited. On May 31, Komsomolskaya Pravda launches an “anti-sprat action” under the slogan “I bought Latvian sprats and helped SS veterans!”.

2006

Rospotrebnadzor finds carcinogens, benzapyrene, in Latvian sprats. Its content is exceeded by 8 times, which corresponds to EU standards, but not Russian ones. In Moscow, 45,000 cans of Baltic sprats are withdrawn from sale.

2007

The ban affected 7 Baltic factories.

2008

Sprat import resumed. No, the Baltics did not become friendly, it was Russia that recognized the EU sanitary standards.

2014

The Baltic states join the anti-Russian sanctions. Rospotrebnadzor stopped the sale of a batch of sprats. As part of the food embargo, the import of raw materials for sprats is prohibited in Russia.

2015

A ban has been introduced on the supply of canned fish to Russia from 31 Estonian and all Latvian factories. Label mismatch.

2016

Loss calculation. Latvia lost imports of canned fish worth $32 million a year, Estonia about $4 million.

2017

The Federal Agency for Fishery announced that all (!) Baltic fish products were replaced by domestic ones.

2021

Sprat factories in the Baltics are going bankrupt one after another. Kaliningrad slave farm “For the Motherland!” buys their equipment for next to nothing and transports it to Russia.

2022

Lithuania introduces a partial transport blockade of the Kaliningrad region.

Let’s see how it ends now.

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