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Russian traders warned over wheat prices

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Russian traders warned over wheat prices

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Russian traders have been warned not to take advantage of the country’s record heatwave to drive up food prices.

Even before the wildfires that have ravaged the countryside, drought had cost the country more than a third of its wheat crop.

The government responded by announcing a ban on wheat exports till the end of the year.

President Medvedev has suggested the ban might not last if the harvest improves. But the prime minister and his deputy have poured cold water on the idea.

Vladimir Putin also took on anyone looking to profit from the crisis.

“Dishonest market dealers must understand that they’d better act within the law of face fines that will far exceed any profit they make from speculation,” he said.

The prime minister has met the head of the Russian anti-monopoly agency, urging him to punish rapidly those who hike up prices.

Grain prices have been soaring on world markets. But despite the export ban they have also been rising at home.

In Moscow consumers have seen bread prices go up by 10 per cent.

The government says it is prepared to put its own wheat stocks on the market if necessary to keep prices down.

The export ban begins on Sunday.