Persons transporting their belongings in and out of Russia are falling victim to the whims of individual customs inspectors under a ""vague and poorly written"" Russian law imposing a 63 percent tariff on some goods, customs officials said Thursday. ""We don't know how we are supposed to place a value on the goods,"" said Nikolai Ivanov, deputy head of customs at Sheremetyevo-2 airport. ""The decree says nothing about that. Everybody does it differently. It is vague and poorly written."" ""I feel a little sorry for anyone bringing in personal goods,"" said the head of customs for the Marina Roshcha truck clearing station in northern Moscow. ""This law is terrible. It is almost illiterate. We try to be fair, but what can we do about a bad law? People are really at the mercy of the custom's official who is on duty at the time their things are cleared."" The State Customs Committee has been swamped with telephone calls from ""panicky foreigners"" worried by the Dec.
Not since a landlord-tenant dispute at the Hammer Center two years ago have I seen Moscowville residents so worked up. The source of the furor is three new Russian regulations: ?In order to take personal books out of the country, a foreigner must now present a detailed catalog of his collection to the Committee on the Export of Publications Abroad. The laborious process requires 11 catagories of information including publisher, place and date of publication, print run, number of pages, volume and the price paid for the book. ?Foreigners bringing personal belongings into Russia must pay a 60 percent import duty on the declared value. The customs committee is now collecting tens of thousands of dollars from foreigners trying to move here with their sofas, stereo and favorite recliner. ?Foreigners must now have a work permit in order to be employed in Russia. Foreigners lacking the document (an accreditation is sufficient) will have their visas denied and could be shipped out at the employer's expense.