Russia to open duty-free shops to sell Western products to foreign diplomats

Like the Soviet-era Beriozka shop, this boutique will allow foreign diplomats to buy Western goods, as long as they pay in dollars or euros.

Russia will revive an old tradition that originated in the Soviet Union. Starting in the fall, duty-free shops selling duty-free Western goods in exchange for foreign currency will open across the country. guardian. A concept reminiscent of the Beriozka shop from the Soviet era.

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In order to obtain this imported product, which was increasingly rare in ordinary Russian shops at the start of the war in Ukraine, several conditions had to be met. First of all, as a foreign buyer, each client must provide documents proving that he or she is a diplomat, employee of an international organization, or a member of his family. Another condition that must be respected: pay in foreign currency.

Perfume, alcohol, watches…

The duty-free shop will be owned by a company created by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other entities that will be selected later. The targeted products are those commonly found in duty-free shops, namely alcohol, tobacco, jewelry, cosmetics, perfumes, as well as smartphones and watches.

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Between 1965 and 1990, Beriozka stores were a way for the country to acquire foreign currency. They later became gift shops, mostly closed since the mid-1990s with the collapse of the Soviet Union. The context this time is very different but the goal remains the same: to replenish the foreign exchange reserves that Russia is struggling to access due to Western sanctions imposed at the start of the war on Ukraine.

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