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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Moscow Customs Revenues Leap 30% Under New Chief

Moscow's new customs boss got off to a flying start on Monday, his first day in office, as the Moscow customs service collected a third more dues than its daily average, officials announced Tuesday.

Alexander Bychkov, 51, formerly head of the Western Customs Committee - which supervises 16 regions of the Russian Federation since 1997 - was appointed Saturday to replace Sergei Soldatov, who had served as head of the Moscow Customs Committee for one year. Moscow's customs force is the biggest in Russia, collecting almost half of all customs revenues.

Soldatov was fired for poor collection, new federal customs chief Mikhail Vanin said Tuesday.

By June 1999 the Moscow customs had collected only 15.3 billion rubles ($627 million) while the target for the first half of the year was 25.5 billion rubles.

"Moscow accounts for 43 percent of all customs revenues. If it fails to meet targets, state coffers suffer," Vanin said.

"In May, customs collected only 4.4 billion rubles - the lion's share of the blame for such poor collection is Moscow's," he added.

Unlike Moscow under Soldatov, Bychkov's Western Customs Committee, "is one of the best regional departments in the State Customs Committee system," said a statement released Monday.

"Already on Monday customs payments collection reached 188 million rubles," Vanin said. "While normally the Moscow Customs collects 120 million rubles to 130 million rubles of customs payments."

Vanin said he was sure the target figure for June of 18 billion rubles - almost five times May's actual figure - will be achieved by Moscow.

Vanin said Soldatov is the first but probably not the last victim of his new approach to the job. "Those customs heads who fail to achieve their plan targets will not work here."

Bychkov has worked in the customs service since 1989 and served as first deputy head of Moscow customs during that time. For 15 years before joining the customs service he served as an officer in the federal security structures.