Russian women spend 500 million dollars a year for fur coats and caps. Auction taxes melt away to the West because of the conflict in Soyuzpushnina

In St Petersburg, a conflict is being continued, on whose result the fate of the only domestic Russian fur auction depends. Before, the destruction of the USSR, this auction was one of the most important in the world fur business. The conflicting sides, the old and the new leadership of the St Petersburg office of Soyuzpushnina fur company, accuse each other of being non-professionals.

The conflict started in 1996, when the Moscow leadership of Soyuzpushnina proposed to its St Petersburg office to take out a loan from the Zenit bank for a program of restoring the fur business in the region. The credits started in 1997. One year later, Zenit bank stopped giving credites, referring to a default; however, all the credits were in dollars. As a result, the sum of Soyuzpushnina’s debt totalled 1.2 million dollars, while, with interest, the debt made up almost 2 million. The company’s proposal to pay off the debt with fur was turned down. Soon, in Spring of 2000, Zenit bank wrote off the debt sum from loro accounts. The Moscow office’s director, Borodenkov, brought an action against the bank. The case’s hearing was fixed for January 27, 2001, though two days before the trial, Borodenkov was discharged, while the newly appointed director, Arkadi Revzin, restarted the suit. This September, 30 workers of a security institution captured the Moscow auction building. Several workers were removed from the office while they were sill receiving their salaries. One of the bank workers, Mikhail Lebedev, became the St Petersburg office’s head. According to the discharged director, while appointing Mikhail Lebedev, Russian legislation was violated, because the Soyuzpushnina company is being auctioned.

The December auction was predicted to be unsuccessful. According to the company’s former team, fur suppliers, five Russian animal farms breeding sable, agreed with Helsinki auction, while they did not intend to supply wild fur, only bred sable’s pelts. The predictions came true. The prices increased by 12-17 percent, though the furs were not very popular because of the high prices.

The situation is really serious in fur industry. In the 90s, the yearly overturn of the Moscow auction made 150 million dollars, not 20 million, which is the case now. Animal farms of the Leningrad district produced 15 million mink pelts (while now only 2.5 million). In addition, at that time, there were 147 farms of the kind, not 50. Recently, most of the animal farms have preferred to sell furs in Helsinki and Copenhagen auctions; therefore, most of taxes have melted away instead of enriching Russian budget. The Leningrad region’s governor, Valeri Serdyukov, states that the Zenit bank supports animal farms in the region, while, in reality, its credits cover only 10 percent of the animal farms. Now, Russia, whose internal fur market capacity makes 500 million dollars a year, produces furs only for 100 million, while fur on the level of 400 million consumed in Russia is being imported.

Natalya Kovtun PRAVDA.Ru St Petersburg

Translated by Vera Solovieva

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