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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Importer Defends Privileges for Athletic Groups

In response to "Tax Exemptions Cost Russia Millions of Dollars in Revenue," Feb. 22.


On March 1, 1992, a presidential decree was signed that allowed special exemptions for charitable organizations and sports committees to bring in products duty free. This decree allowed these organizations to raise capital to help them continue operations where the government has failed and to enable the sports committees to bring in new equipment and technology in order to remain competitive.

However, the committees saw a way to make money -- and well they should. By allowing private companies to work with them, they were able to raise significant monies that the government could not give them.

But let's look at it from another view. The main reason these programs became very popular is because the government has continued to maintain excessive taxation on imported products. Quick history lesson: 1993 import taxes on all alcohol, cigarettes, cars were 15 percent. Revenues were climbing quarterly and products entering the market were reasonably priced.

The government in its inimitable way decided "the only way to give Russian companies a chance to become competitive is to raise taxes. The additional money generated can be plowed back into industry."

Today, in 1995, Russian industry is no farther along. Import revenue has plunged. The black market has flourished.

Hey, Mr. Yeltsin, when are you and your cronies going to wake up and smell the coffee? The importers are not to blame. You gave us the reason to go to other "schemes." Reduce your taxes to 20 percent total tax and watch how much revenue you can start making again.

Cary S. Languirand

Country Manager

Certified Industries International

Moscow vs. the Rest


I recently saw a television program about Alena Apina, the popular singer. The program described how Apina arrived in Moscow from a provincial town and became a pop star. Her life's dreams come true. She wins the love of millions.

She is almost happy, but still there is one problem. Even after many years of living in Moscow, she cannot feel secure. She does not have the right of permanent residence in the capital. This situation lasts for several years, until finally she marries a Muscovite and gains complete happiness.

Her life is summed up in a beautiful song: "Give me permanent residence, Moscow! I won't let you down."

It is only natural for people to wish to make the most of their lives. A national capital is a challenge, a place of opportunity for everyone who has ambition. There is nothing criminal about that.

But it seems that Mayor Yury Luzhkov takes a different view. Even the Moscow television channel occasionally drops remarks aimed at setting Muscovites against the rest of Russia about the worsening criminal situation in Moscow and about so-called provincial "New Russians" arriving in Moscow in hordes in their desperate attempt to rob Muscovites of what little they have.

To choose a place of residence is an inherent right of every person. And the most painful thing about the situation is that people are regarded as liabilities rather than as valuable assets. So why do our authorities persist in their outdated attitudes? Why not just drop such practices?

Andrei Stavtsev


An Answer to Tatum


I would like to respond to the letter by Paul Tatum of Americom Business Center, Inc., a publicly held Florida corporation controlled by Tatum. In his paid advertisement on Friday, Feb. 24, Tatum urges members of the foreign business community to speak out and voice our opinions about the issues that he discusses.

Our company was unfortunate enough to have dealings with Americom when we installed the original international telecommunications circuits at the Slavjanskaya Hotel in 1992. During those early days of the hotel's existence, no other major telecommunications provider was willing to go into this risky arrangement.

Subsequently, we were treated in an unscrupulous and deplorable manner by the management of Americom, and especially by Tatum personally. We found our contract obligations breached, and our property illegally seized. We therefore take great offense at the general tone of Tatum's letter, in which he pleads that he is an innocent victim of "individuals of dubious character, with highly questionable business associations."

In dealing with the Russian partners at the Slavjanskaya, BelCom has always found them to address all relevant matters in a professional and businesslike manner.

Similarly, counter to the facts presented in Tatum's letter, the Radisson Hotel Corporation has been placed in an untenable position with regard to its partner, Americom, as seen by the arguments set forth in the legal papers filed against Americom in the U.S. Federal Court for the State of Minnesota. It is Radisson's position, which has recently been initially sustained by that court, that Americom's conduct has violated all basic agreements with Radisson, subjecting Americom to forfeiture of its contract rights to continue as partner in the hotel partnership.

Clearly it is expatriates like Paul Tatum who give American business people a bad name in Moscow, while the rest of us are trying so hard to overcome the cultural differences that separate our experience from that of our Russian colleagues in order to benefit together from the changes that have taken place here in the past few years.

We will, however, take Tatum's advice and speak out to the appropriate organizations by sending copies of this letter to the American Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, the mayor's office and the president's administration.

Marina Albee

Executive Vice President

BelCom Incorporated