Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

City Police Try to Move Belarus Vendors

Police attempted Wednesday to clear the area next to the Belorussky train station of street vendors, but the vendors, most of whom are from Belarus, said that price rises at home would in any case soon destroy their business.

Police major Nikolay Khorunzhy said traders were forced to leave the area because they had polluted the streets with piles of rotting rubbish, mostly cardboard boxes, creating "anti-sanitary" conditions.

Andrei Sergeyev, a local cleaner, said that he and other cleaners had tried but failed to force vendors from the area.

"When I tried to drive them away I got tear gas sprayed into my eyes," Sergeyev said.

"Police cannot cope with them either," he said. "They just come back here 15 minutes after police scare them off. And it's me who gets fined for the dirt on the streets."

Valentina Belousova, who arrived from the Belarussian town of Polotsk to sell fish and sour cream, said the police actions were unfair.

"If people want to buy from us here why shouldn't they be allowed to?" she said.

For months, traders from Belarus have benefitted from relatively cheap prices for food, making it profitable for them to travel to Moscow and sell their wares on the streets and in market places.

But Belousova said that she would soon stop coming to trade in Moscow because Belarus' food prices jumped last week, making the journey no longer worth her while.

Khorunzhy said police had arrested none of the vendors and that they were free to trade at Kievsky Station or at Vagankovsky Ulitsa in northeast central Moscow, reflecting the hopelessness of their attempts to control the city's street markets.

Irina Krymskaya, a spokeswoman for the city technical inspection office, said the Mayor's office had banned trade in the streets in May 1993 and restricted it to specially equipped market places.

Krymskaya said that Moscow offers 86 such markets for food traders and six larger market places for sale of manufactured goods where authorities can control the quality of food and other goods on sale.

But Krymskaya said that district authorities often fail to stop the illegal street business.

Viktor Sharilin, the acting governor of the Dorogomilovsky district where Kievsky Station is situated, said that next month police would be able to enforce the ban on street traders on Kievskaya Ulitsa. This will be possible after a new market place has been prepared in the area for up to 1,200 vendors.