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Medvedev hints at end to Russia grain export ban

by Staff Writers
Moscow (AFP) Sept 6, 2010
President Dmitry Medvedev Monday said Russia's ban on grain exports would be lifted once it had worked out how much it has harvested, in an apparent contradiction of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Putin said last week Russia would not lift a ban on grain exports before next year's harvest, extending the major world producer's embargo until at least mid-2011.

But on a visit to the southwestern city of Voronezh, one of Russia's main grain producing regions, Medvedev said: "As for the embargo on grain, it is a forced but temporary measure.

"As soon as we know how much we have harvested any kind of embargo will be lifted. Do not doubt this."

He did not give further details or elaborate on the timing of the lifting of the ban.

A record drought has destroyed a quarter of Russia's harvest and Putin signed a decree early last month banning grain exports from August 15 to December 31.

The export ban is aimed at keeping the domestic market well supplied with grain to prevent sharp rises in food prices with Russia's leaders nervous of social unrest and keen to avoid any discontent ahead of elections due in 2012.

The export ban from such a key global player stung world markets, sending wheat prices to two-year highs and sparking worries of a crisis in global food supplies.

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