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29 Jun, 2009 18:48

Authorities shut Europe's largest market

Cherkizovsky Market, Eastern Europe's largest trading ground, was subjected to extensive checks by police after the discovery of more than 6,000 containers of pirated and smuggled goods from China worth $2 billion.

Authorities have released the complete list of violations, for which this huge market was temporarily shut down.

The list includes violations of sanitary norms, concerns over how goods are stored and over the living conditions of thousands of the market’s employees. Until all these violations are resolved, authorities say, the market is going to remain shut.

Officials are also investigating other possible violations, such as the spreading of counterfeit products in the market, drug trafficking and more.

A large part of the territory Cherkizovsky Market occupies belongs to a sports university, which has been fighting for years trying to get the land back.

But one of the factors that triggered the decision to temporarily shut down the market was the authorities’ discovery of around 6,000 containers with counterfeit products inside, 58 of which contained children’s goods that were found to be a health hazard.

The activity around the market is happening as the government is trying to fight the spreading of counterfeit products in Russia, a development being closely monitored by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

He said earlier that the issue is a huge problem for Russia’s economy, and that all those found guilty of being somehow connected to the spread of such products should be put in jail. According to Putin, around 40% of products sold in Russia are counterfeit.

City within city

Cherkizovsky Market is enormous, with an area around 70 hectares. Thousands of people work and live here, most of them people from CIS states, including some 17,000 Tajik nationals, and some Asian countries.

Some people say they never leave the market territory. Many do not even speak Russian, and they live by their own rules, which often conflict with the laws of Russian Federation.

It appears that whole factories serve the market’s needs, producing counterfeit products.

Other glaring issues are drug and, possibly, even human trafficking. Many of those who work at this market are thought to be illegal workers.

Authorities are trying to investigate what is going inside, but their attempts are being hampered by thousands of former police officers who work in the interior security services of the market.

The person behind this “city within a city” is Telman Ismailov. He is the owner of the company that owns most of the market, and a person involved in many other businesses throughout the country. 

Telman Ismailov – who is he?

Ismailov is a Russian businessman of Azeri-Jewish descent. He is the president of the AST Group, which includes Praga Hotel in Moscow, a development company, Mardan Palace Hotel in Turkey and two major Moscow’ markets, the Izmailovsky and Varshavsky, as the Lenta.ru website reports.

Apart from that, Ismailov is involved in the jewelry industry, and is one of the richest men in the country.

He is also known as quite a party animal, for his habit of hosting extremely expensive parties, with some of the world’s top celebrities invited, including Jennifer Lopez, Sharon Stone, Ricky Martin, Richard Gere and others.

The aforementioned Mardan Palace Hotel, which Ismailov opened recently, is a six-star luxury hotel in the Turkish resort city of Antalya. It reportedly cost him around $1.5 billion to build.

The businessman denies all allegations that he is in any way connected to any illegal activities at the market. At the same time, he is reportedly now seeking citizenship in Turkey, where he could potentially relocate his business from Russia.