Biting beer can in half: Russian showman in Cossack raid on ‘banned’ products (VIDEO)

Stas Baretsky © Alexander Natruskin
A scandal-courting showman has decided to destroy foreign beer he claims is banned in Russia by biting cans in half, shark-style. That was his way of attempting to derail a Cossack raid on banned foodstuffs in St. Petersburg.

The raid was organized on Thursday by controversial Cossack leader Andrey Polyakov, who has a record of staging publicity stunts, such as ordering a bust of Russian President Vladimir Putin depicted as an Ancient Roman emperor.

This time, however, he appears not to have got what he expected. The Cossack visit to a grocery store, intending to find food banned under Russia’s countersanctions against EU members and some other countries, was upstaged by a Russian showman’s stunt.

Standing 175cm and weighing in at 142kg, Stas Baretsky is a mountain of a man and cultivates a brutal image. Wearing massive golden rings and an eye-popping crimson jacket, he looks like an iconic “New Russian” joke character from the 1990s – a member of the nouveau riche who gained his fortune by plundering post-Soviet Russia and gunning down the competition.

Baretsky enthusiastically opened the raid, showing off on camera how banned products should be destroyed by law-abiding citizens. His hunt netted at least three cans of beer, which he destroyed by biting them and tearing them in half, according to Nevex.TV’s footage of the farcical show.

Polyakov’s Cossacks were not unduly discouraged by the gatecrasher at their party and wrote a complaint to the city prosecutor’s office, saying they found some food products lacking the proper paperwork.

Some recent reports in the Russian media suggest Baretsky was in fact invited to join the Cossack ranks.

Food sanctions have become a thorny issue in Russia after Putin ordered all banned products seized by customs be promptly destroyed on camera. The measure is designed to curb and discourage smuggling, but it drew a flurry of criticism from the government. Critics said destroying food was sacrilegious in Russia, a country that experienced regular famines before 20th century industrialization and international trade made food supply stable.