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Russia Faces Mobile Phone Shortage Due to Customs Clamp-Down

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Russia is facing a possible shortage of mobile phones following a clamp down instigated by the Federal Customs Service. Under new rules, a policy of randomly checking handset boxes to ensure they were as advertised has been changed to require that every single box is opened and the contents verified, reports The Moscow Times, citing Vedomosti. The rules are temporary and due to expire in September.

Over the first two days that the rules have been in effect, customs points at Sheremetyevo and Domodedovo have not processed a single Nokia handset, spokeswoman Viktoria Yeremina said. By Tuesday, more than 440,000 Nokia telephones worth around USD42 million have piled up at the two posts, and the figure is rising, she added.

Motorola managed to get a large shipment into the country before the new rules came into effect, but subsequent deliveries are also being delayed.

The two largest retailers have supplies, but Euroset warned that branches would start to see gaps in their inventory. Svyaznoi spokeswoman Yelena Nogotkova said the retailer had enough stock for one month.

Russia has suffered an endemic of handset smuggling in the past, but the move seems unlikely to cut down on smuggling - probably increase it. Earlier this year, Russian oligarch, and co-founder of the huge Euroset mobile phone retailer, since sold to VimpelCom, fled the country following allegations of kidnapping and phone smuggling.

On the web: The Moscow Times

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Tags: euroset  svyaznoi  nokia  motorola  smuggling  Russia