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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russian Traders Robbed at Cherkizovsky

Billions of rubles in goods have been stolen from Russian traders' closed stalls at Moscow's Cherkizovsky Market over the past few weeks, a trader representative said Monday.

The traders have filed a complaint about the theft with the Izmailovo police precinct, which oversees the territory once occupied by the market in northeastern Moscow, said Leonid Razvozzhayev, a member of a council of the market's former tenants.

Moscow authorities shut down Cherkizovsky, Europe's largest market, in late June after President Vladimir Putin demanded "convictions" over Chinese goods purportedly being smuggled to the market. Police confiscated an estimated $2 billion to $5 billion worth of merchandise with the closure and demanded that traders show work and ownership documents to claim their goods.

The crackdown left tens of thousands of workers from China and Vietnam without their goods and jobs, and Razvozzhayev said many Russian citizens were suffering as well. He told The Moscow Times that several billion rubles in merchandise had been stolen from more than 1,000 stalls owned by Russian traders.

City Hall has promised to protect the rights of Russian traders in the market closure.

Sergei Ryakhovsky, a member of the Pubic Chamber, said his colleagues, representatives of migrant organizations and prosecutors would meet at the Public Chamber on Tuesday to discuss how authorities could assist former Cherkizovsky traders.

"Russian traders need to be protected," Ryakhovsky said by telephone. "They are desperate. Some are thinking of committing suicide."

Meanwhile, Chinese authorities said Monday that they had settled the concerns of former Chinese traders from Cherkizovsky.

About 95 percent of goods worth $5 billion that police had confiscated from Chinese traders has been returned, said Sun Yongfu, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Commerce. "On the whole, the problem has been solved," Yongfu told The Associated Press.

About 1,000 Chinese traders have moved to the Moskva mall in southeastern Moscow, leading to two street protests by local residents and the nationalist Movement Against Illegal Immigration over the weekend, Gazeta reported Monday.

City Hall is distributing leaflets to Chinese traders at Moskva, telling them "not to spit or smoke wherever they want," a senior City Hall official, Vladimir Malyshkov, said last week, RIA-Novosti reported.

The body of a Chinese man with stab wounds was discovered in a stall on Cherkizovsky's territory Saturday, Novaya Gazeta reported Monday, citing former traders.