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    New customs rules will not hamper stem cell imports - Putin

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    Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has promised to tackle red tape over stem cell imports that emerged after the creation of the Customs Union between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

    Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has promised to tackle red tape over stem cell imports that emerged after the creation of the Customs Union between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

    In line with new customs rules, stem cells are considered a good, which means they have a monetary value and makes them an object of various customs documents. But in reality, stem cells do not have a monetary value as they are provided by donors free of charge.

    Moreover, stem cells survive for only 24 hours, and customs red tape may make it impossible to deliver them to patients on time.

    Putin's statement followed a request by heads of a children's oncology hospital that will open in Moscow in June.

    Stem cells are currently imported to Russia without customs declarations, a hospital representative said.

    She said the number of operations using stem cells is not very high in Russia, but it would increase to 250 a year when the hospital becomes fully operational.

    "I am sure there will be no problems here," Putin said.

    He added that Belarus and Kazakhstan are also interested in resolving the issue as children from these countries would probably be treated in the Moscow hospital along with Russian children.

    The Customs Union between the three ex-Soviet neighbors became fully operational in early July, when the countries ratified the Customs Code. The states plan to scrap their customs borders on July 1, 2011.

    MOSCOW, November 11 (RIA Novosti) 

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