Opening of duty-free shops for people with special papers in Moscow and St. Petersburg
The Russian government has decided to open two specialty stores in Moscow and St. Petersburg, selling alcohol, tobacco, sweets, cosmetics, jewelry, smartphones and watches. Duty-free establishments will accept both rubles and foreign currencies. The problem is that only people with special documents will be able to shop there, just like at “Beriozka” stores in Soviet times.
Although the government published the decision on July 27, Russian media took notice on Wednesday. It will come into effect on August 27, but it is unclear whether stores will open by then or at a later date. The exact location of the two stores also remains to be determined.
“In Soviet times, my friends worked abroad and there were stores for diplomats that offered certain discounts. These outlets allow diplomats to freely purchase goods that they cannot import or purchase in the host country,” Russian Senator Vladimir Dzhabarov told the Parliamentary Gazette.
Foreign diplomats, family members and employees of international organizations will be able to shop there, provided they have special accreditations from the Russian Foreign Ministry. Prices will be indicated in rubles, euros and dollars. The Russian customs service will be in charge of the stores, which will only sell goods normally subject to the duty-free regime.
It didn’t take long for the initiative to be compared to the legendary “Beriozkas”, a chain of stores that first appeared in 1961. However, they catered not only to diplomats, but also to military personnel and some Soviet workers operating abroad, who were allowed to use their foreign currency in stores managed by the state. “Beryozka” also sold food and clothes, which new stores will not do.
The first stores were opened at Sheremetyevo and Vnukovo airports in Moscow, and hotels “Ukraine” and “Leningrad” – two from Moscow “seven sisters” Skyscraper. The chain then expanded to the capitals of all Soviet republics, major regional centers and popular tourist cities such as Sochi, Sevastopol and Yalta. After the dissolution of the USSR, the channel was privatized and went bankrupt in the mid-1990s, as it was no longer profitable.