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THE HISTORY OF CUSTOMS

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Task 1. Read and translate the text.

The current Russian word tamozhnya appeared in the times of Mongol-Tatar yoke. The word tamga, in Tatar, meant “a customs tax; an official who collected it; and the stamped seal or a statement showing that it had been paid”. The Russian Customs Service, however, predates the Mongol-Tatar yoke (1237-1480). Thus, we can say that Russia has had a Customs Service in some form during the past 1000 years.

Even in the times of Kievan Rus, taxeswere collected for the transportation of goods through the frontiers of individual princedoms. Each market had its tamozhnya and the right to collect duties could be purchased from the State. That right was often given to powerful merchants.

The first Russian Customs Statute was handed down in 1667. It was strict towards foreigners, who were allowed to trade only in frontier towns on pain of confiscation. A special tsar’s certificate was required for trading further inside the country. Such protectionism went on for most of the next 300 years. Every tsar, from Peter the Great to Nicolas II, approved laws limiting the import of foreign goods and defending Russian producers.

For almost all of its history the Customs Service has been much more than a force for keeping out contraband. In fact, it has been a powerful administrative body, and customs business has always been considered important and prestigious.

 

* * *

A number of well-known people both in Russia and abroad worked for the Customs and contributed to its development.

The Russian tsar Alexei Mikhailovitch was the head of the Russian state for more than 30 years (1645-1676). It was the time when the main state institutions were formed. He did a lot to develop customs laws. For example, he initiated customs reformsby issuing the Decree “On levying customs duties on goods in Moscow and other cities”. Besides, he signed the New Trade Statute (1667) which was based on the previous legislation and suggestions, made by Russian merchants. It was the first attempt to arrange customs procedures.

The well-known Russian poet Gavriil R. Derzchavin combined his literary activities with his work as President of Commerce Board in 1794-1803. He was engaged in foreign trade and customs business and took part in working out customs tariffswhichcame into effectin 1800.

Alexander N. Radishev, the famous Russian writer, also worked for the Customs and was appointed the head of St.Petersburg Customs House.

Dmitry I. Mendeleev was a great Russian chemist and a public figure. In 1891-1903 he was Head of the Commission in charge of customs tariffs. He was sure that protectionist tariff would serve the development of the country as it not only regulated export and import but also stimulated industrial production. He was one of the first to discover the laws ruling customs business.

Nowadays Russia has the world’s longest border to police and has a modern, multi-functioning Customs Service. It carries out the same functions as the Customs of other countries: fiscal function, regulation of foreign trade, law enforcement, keeping of customs statistics on foreign trade, etc.

 

 

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