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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Consumer Service to Open Hotline for Entrepreneurs

Operating under the presumption that sometimes the best defense against a crisis is sage advice and a couple of hot dogs, the Federal Consumer Protection Service said Tuesday that it would open a toll-free number to help aspiring food vendors.

Gennady Onishchenko, the watchdog's head, told reporters that the hotline and an Internet portal would offer "anti-crisis consulting" on topics such as starting a business.

The government has been looking for ways to mitigate the effect of deepening unemployment and economic contraction. The Health and Social Development Ministry announced last month that it would offer unemployed Russians a one-year advance on their unemployment benefits, or about $1,700, to start small businesses

"We're offering a mini-literacy drive: what you need to do to open something yourself," Onishchenko said, Interfax reported.

The drive could prove irksome to Mayor Yury Luzhkov, who has spent four years trying to rid Moscow of the vendor-operated kiosks that the consumer protection service is offering to advise. Police regularly check markets and other centers of small business for compliance with health and safety standards. Operators would inform vendors what documents they need to obtain, how to receive registration and what sanitary standards they will have to uphold, Onishchenko said.

He said the service would also propose ways for laid-off workers to make sure that their children are still getting proper nutrition.

It remains unclear how well staffed the service will be. A spokeswoman for the Federal Consumer Protection Service said she did not know what the number would be. Reaching an operator on the watchdog's switchboard required four separate attempts Tuesday.