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 Thursday, 26 December, 2002, 13:44 GMT
Fake goods flood Russia
Russians shop in a market
Russians ask why fraud is not being tackled

The Russian Interior Ministry has announced that up to 90% of all goods sold on the Russian consumer market are fake.

This includes goods as varied as household appliances, cosmetics, food, clothing and medicines.

The news will be of serious concern to international companies, but it is unlikely to surprise most Russians.

The announcement about counterfeit goods was made by the deputy head of the Interior Ministry's economic crime department, Nikolai Bobkov.

Sources

He said that there were specific sources for various items.

Electrical goods are illegally imported from south-east Asia, and cosmetics and toys from China.

Russians shop in a market
Russians are worried about food and medicine
Food, clothing, medicines and video and audio items tend to be produced in Russia itself.

What will sound strange to many Russians is that the ministry believes it can put a figure on the volume of fake goods.

If the police really know that they make up nearly 90% of the market, why aren't they doing more to stop it?

Mr Bobkov claimed that the police had uncovered over 2,000 crimes in Russia this year involving infringement of copyright.

For a country the size of Russia, with such a huge problem, that is a mere tip of the iceberg.

Consumer concern

In any case, most Russians live contentedly with fake CDs or designer clothes.

What worries them more are the instances of adulterated food, drink and medicines.

On Wednesday evening, Russian TV showed a gang in Moscow which had been caught putting out tins of caviar which contained roe which had been rejected by the real producers.

And every year, thousands of Russians die from drinking liquid they take to be vodka, but which is made from deadly chemicals.

Until the authorities are seen to be tackling these problems seriously, Russians will be sceptical about how much the police are really concerned about counterfeit goods.

See also:

17 Dec 02 | England
30 Aug 02 | Business
26 Jul 02 | Europe
07 May 02 | From Our Own Correspondent
18 Apr 02 | Business
29 Jul 01 | Business
Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


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