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Russia's top sanitary doctor loses his job

Wednesday - 10/23/2013, 4:00pm  ET

MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia's chief sanitary doctor, who has won notoriety for his bans of foreign agricultural products and extravagant statements, has been shuffled to a new post.

The Cabinet said Wednesday that Gennady Onishchenko was named an aide to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

Onishchenko has explained his 2006 ban of Georgian wine, fruit and mineral water, a 2009 embargo on Belarusian dairy products, a 2011 ban on vegetables from the European Union and other such measures by sanitary reasons. But they have been widely seen as an instrument of political and economic pressure in relations with Russia's ex-Soviet neighbors and other countries.

Onishchenko also has become a popular Internet hero in Russia thanks to his eccentric ways.

He said, among other things, that a person only needs a 20 minutes of sleep.


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