War and Cheese

By Ben Garfield | Documentary
A Russian man borrows $100,000 and builds a cheese factory in the snowy wilderness.

Filmmaker Ben Garfield tells the story of Oleg Sirota, a man who built a factory in the wilderness when Russia banned all Western cheese imports.

On March 18, 2014, Russia took control of the Ukrainian territory of Crimea. The United Nations deemed this to be a violation of international law, and its member states responded by imposing sanctions on Russia. As an act of retaliation, Putin responded with its own counter-sanctions — one of these being a ban on the import of all Western cheeses.

Sirota saw an opportunity and decided to sell his IT-business, Moscow flat and cars and moved to the countryside. He took out loans from family and friends. Then, he partnered with a Russian working at a creamery in Germany and hired two refugees from Makiivka, a town near the front line in eastern Ukraine.

In August 2015, in a field outside the village of Dubrovskoe, he opened “Russian Parmesan” to take advantage of the cheese shortage.




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