In Moscow and St. Petersburg, special shops will be opened in the end of August of this year for diplomatic missions, consular offices, representative offices of international organizations, as well as foreign employees of all these institutions and their family members.
Trading in such stores will be in rubles, dollars, and euros according to the duty-free system. Alcohol, tobacco products, perfumes, and cosmetics, as well as confectionery, jewelry, smartphones, watches will cost slightly cheaper than in regular stores due to the fact that it is duty-free trade (import duties and VAT are not included in price).
It will be possible to buy something in duty-free shops only at retail and upon presentation of documents confirming official status and accreditation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, as specified in Parliament Newspaper. Thus, purchases can be made by:
- diplomatic missions, diplomatic personnel (ambassadors, envoys, advisers, trade representatives, secretaries, attaches) and their family members;
- consular offices, consular officials (consul general, consul, vice-consul, consular agent) and relatives living with them;
- representations of states to international organizations and their employees;
- international organizations or their representative offices located in Russia and their personnel.
Customs officers will control trade. After a purchase, a customer will be given a cash receipt with the inscription “Duty Free”. A receipt or a form equivalent to it may indicate information about a buyer. This information, as well as a list of purchased items, will be sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on a monthly basis.
The Government decree comes into force on August 27. According to the decree, large quantities of alcohol for official events will be sold in duty-free shops at the request of diplomatic missions, consulates, and international organizations. The application should specify the purpose of the purchase and the required amount of alcohol. It must be signed by the head of the institution and stamped.
Reasoning of the idea
The stores will be created on the basis of a decree of the Government of the Russian Federation, the work on which, as specified in the diplomatic department, “has been carried out for several years and was initiated after numerous appeals from foreign diplomatic missions, referring to generally accepted international practice,” TASS reports.
“The idea of opening special stores for diplomats is not new,” Vladimir Dzhabarov, first deputy chairman of the Federation Council Committee on International Affairs, commented. “Back in Soviet times, my friends worked abroad, and there were shops for diplomats in which there were certain discounts. These outlets allow diplomats to freely buy goods that they cannot import or buy in the host country.”
According to the senator, for the country where duty free is located, such shops become an additional source of currency.
“Don’t look for an economic point here,” economist Denis Raksha said, in turn. “You can’t get a lot of dollars and euros from this. It’s different. Diplomats are surrounded with their usual environment. For them, in almost all countries (I am familiar with this firsthand) there is duty-free trade. The format can be different […] but the point is the same — the diplomatic corps buys what they need, without duty. So we support the established traditions of diplomatic business turnover.”