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Russian watchdog calls for rules against illicit antiques trade

MOSCOW, March 21 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian government agency in charge of protecting the nation's cultural heritage will be pushing for a regulatory framework to deal with illicit trade on the antiques market, its deputy head said Wednesday .

Rosokhrankultura's Anatoly Vilkov said the lack of trade regulations has lead to the inflow of counterfeits and massive tax evasion among dealers.

"The lack of antiques trading rules today makes it possible for art dealers to get away with paying no tax on their sales profits," he said.

"Sellers and buyers on the antiques market have found themselves unprotected against the possibility of purchasing or selling stolen or forged objects."

According to Vilkov, old rules for trading in antiques were abolished in 2000, leaving the market to its own devices. The number of related activities requiring licensing was then reduced from 3,000 to 300.

As a result, the black market in the sector has reached at least $300 million now.

"We will be pushing for the introduction of trade rules," Vilkov said.

"The government policy we are pursuing is designed to create conditions for the development of the internal antiques market, as well as to ensure tax collection and provide open expansion of our contemporary artists into the Western market."

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