The market the Soviets couldn't shut down

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Ihor Yatsenko of FirstNews describes the Seventh Kilometer, an Odesa institution:

...this combination of odd bits and pieces has become a merchandising attraction that draws hundreds of busloads of wholesale and retail buyers every day that together spend more money than the retail volume of some of the largest shopping centers in Europe and the United States.

The Soviet administration tried to have it shut down but the Seventh Kilometer is still flourishing with a mix of legal, illegal and quasi-legal activites. One vendor cheerfully admits to breaking the law:

Over a certain period of time entrepreneurs came up with a number of ways to import goods to Ukraine and avoid the mandatory import tax. According to Ivan, one of the market’s entrepreneurs, the import tax is structured in a way that a private entrepreneur has to pay twice as much import tax as a registered company. “So, as a rule, accompanying papers for goods imported to Ukraine are registered with a company. If I paid all required taxes, I would jeopardize my business,” Ivan said.

The whole piece is worth a read. Details on Ukraine's business environment here (although these figures refer to Kiev). Tax payments take five times as much time to sort out as the regional average (one man year, every year!) and there are 84 seperate payments - versus just 16 in the typical OECD country.

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