In previous edition of Voice of Russia's '.RU' - daily Runet review we've mentioned the customs service debacle in which one Russian e-shopper found himself, he purchased an Android phone which was not officially sold in Russia through a European e-retailer.
We’ve also mentioned another story – a senior citizen was apprehended by the authorities a couple of years back, because he bought so-called ‘spy glasses’ – glasses with a tiny camera which he wanted to use to record his grandkids. Law enforcement officials reminded that there is a law prohibiting buying equipment which can be used for concealed surveillance and despite his ignorance and good intentions he was prosecuted – on the bright side, instead of serving a prison term, which is a possibility for such a crime, he was slapped with a fine.
Apparently these are not the only incidents of their kind which happen to Russian e-shoppers. Interestingly, more often than not it happens in areas, far away from Moscow, where the central customs service is located. Russian tech news website, therunet.com, tried to get to the bottom of things. A representative of Ulyanovsk region customs service noted that ignorance of the law is no excuse, and as of 2012 there is a list of prohibited goods – encryption devices – which required Russian certification to be cleared for import. This includes modems, routers, computers, phones and so on. Those producers who want to sell to Russia know this and comply. Those goods which are officially not sold in Russia, but are capable of encryption – well, they’re technically illegal. The representative confirmed that people willingly or unwillingly break the law and provided another example – one e-shopper was slapped with a suspended sentence for importing a pen with a USB memory card.
The thing is, one of the reasons Russians purchase such devices abroad is they’re not sold within the country. This kind of directly contradicts the law. Therunet also interviewed one shopper, who purchased a Bluetooth device for his car the likes of which are not sold here. Long story short, after engaging in a two-year-long battle with various bureaucratic agencies he gave up, paid a fine and ordered the same device from the same vendor, asking him to use regular postal service instead of courier delivery – this time he received his device with no problems. All in all, it seems that the market regulations are in need of a reform.
Of course, there is another reason why Russians shop online – lower prices. Buying abroad carries fewer expenses for the customer due to a number of factors, such as streamlined logistics, lower overhead and no excise duties or taxes which Russian retailers need to pay. Well, the latter had their voices finally heard and this year the Russian government set out to plug up the loophole – new legislation dictates that Russian lawmakers can set new import duties, and the paperwork which soon followed the law set the bar at one hundred fifty euro per parcel opposed to one thousand per month. As you can see, this pretty much guarantees that Russians will no longer purchase fancy gadgets abroad. Well, this may change – recently over a hundred thousand Russian e-shoppers singed an e-petition demanding to raise the ceiling. We’ll see how that turns out.