Russia’s top health official, Gennady Onishchenko, known for his controversial import bans and vivid medical advice, has been relieved of his duties and appointed as an aide to Prime Minister.
Gennady Onishchenko was relieved as head of the Rospotrebnadzor watchdog due to his contract expiring, Prime Minister's spokeswoman Natalya Timakova said.
She added that a former deputy to Onishchenko, Anna Popova, had been appointed acting head of the watchdog and that a final decision on who would head the agency would be made later on.
Onishchenko, who celebrated his 63rd birthday on Monday, is notorious for introducing selective food import bans that have serious consequences for the economies of Russia’s ex-Soviet neighbors that they usually target. These bans usually follows some political tensions between Russia and the affected country, and are routinely condemned as a Kremlin bullying tactic.
Since being appointed head of Russia’s federal health inspection agency when it was founded in 2004, Onishchenko has initiated bans on Georgian wine, Belarusian and Lithuanian dairy products, Ukrainian chocolate, Tajik dried fruit and nuts (he later called for a temporary ban on Tajik migrants themselves) and European vegetables.
Author: Julia Alieva