Streetwise Professor

January 27, 2009

The Past as Prelude

Filed under: Economics,Russia — The Professor @ 8:17 pm

De Custine, 1839:

No one can leave Russia until he has forewarned all his creditors of his intention, that is to say, until he has announced his departure three times in the gazettes, at an interval of eight days between each publication.

This is strictly enforced, unless at least you pay the police to shorten the prescribed time, and even then, you must make the insertion once or twice.  No one can obtain post-horses without a document from the authorities, certifying that he owes nothing.

So much precaution shows the bad faith that exists in the country, for as, hitherto, the Russians have had little personal intercourse with foreigners, they must have taken lessons in wariness from themselves alone.  

Reuters, 2009:

Russian bailiffs have recovered millions of rubles in debt from delinquent borrowers by barring them from travelling abroad until they pay up.

Government bailiffs said they had signed orders for 82,000 foreign travel bans and recovered almost 800 million roubles ($24.25 million) from debtors — some of whom only found out when they arrived at the border with their bags packed.

“The scheme has been very effective, a phenomenal success,” Natalya Selivanova, a spokeswoman for the Federal Bailiff Service, said on Tuesday.

The foreign travel bans, introduced early last year, were issued only after several warnings and a court decision, Federal Bailiff Service Director Artur Parfenchikov said.

“If someone can’t keep up his payments on a $100,000 debt and then buys a package tour to Thailand … that’s not just illegal, it’s immoral,” he told a briefing in Moscow.

Russia has long been forced to use unusual measures to reclaim debts as its legal system often favours poorer borrowers over their lenders, said Richard Hainsworth, director of RusRating, a credit agency in Moscow.

Russian authorities have posted the names of people with unpaid bills on billboards in recent years to shame them into paying.

Fascinating, no?

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  1. And my American colleague had to go to court to recover his passport when he was wrongly accused by the authorities of failing to pay child support. They take passports from deadbeat dads in the UK too, don’t they?

    Comment by jb — January 30, 2009 @ 5:42 am

  2. In the post-sovok republics, it did not stop with debt.

    In Ukraine, for example, if you wanted to leave the country, you first had to “repay” the government for all the “free” education that you got. It was a way of stemming the tide of people leaving the country for a better economic life. People found ways around this requirement. I don’t think it exists any more.

    Comment by elmer — January 31, 2009 @ 11:26 am

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