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11 Sep, 2023 13:14

Russian customs chief accuses EU of ‘total lawlessness’

Confiscating tourists’ phones and cars, as advised by Brussels, would be “utter nonsense,” Ruslan Davydov has insisted
Russian customs chief accuses EU of ‘total lawlessness’

Russia’s interim customs chief has blasted the European Commission’s instruction to EU member states to confiscate personal possessions of arriving Russian tourists.

“How do we take the European Commission’s ban on traveling by personal car or with smart phones? Well, it’s utter nonsense,” Ruslan Davydov told journalists on Monday on the sidelines of an economic forum in the city of Vladivostok.

The EU slapped wide-ranging sanctions on trade with Russia over the Ukraine conflict. Last Friday, however, Brussels explained that the restrictions should also apply to items for personal use brought by tourists crossing the bloc’s border.

Goods that are classified as prohibited – even shampoo and toilet paper – should be confiscated, according to the clarification. The European Commission urged “EU operators [to] identify, assess, and understand the possible risks of sanctions circumvention” when conducting customs checks.

Davydov branded the decision as “total lawlessness” that defies the normal logic of customs controls. Moscow has little influence on the policies, since the EU broke all cooperation with Russia, he noted.

“The way they regulate customs procedures on their soil can only invoke regret and incomprehension,” he added. But at least “they have not banned [Russian nationals] from wearing pants when crossing the border.”

The official assured that the Federal Customs Service, which he heads, shall not adopt a similar policy regarding tourists arriving from the EU.

The Russian embassy in Helsinki urged citizens on Sunday not to travel to Finland in cars with Russian license plates, citing the risk of seizure stemming from the new guidelines.