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The small retailers are going online

Yesterday, in a video uploaded to Youtube the representatives of small and medium-sized retail businesses from many Russian cities, told President Dmitry Medvedev and the entire Internet community that if they are not allowed to sell beer and cigarettes, they will lose their business. The initiative belongs to kioskers from Izhevsk and Udmurt who took the trouble to go round the colleagues across the country and to record a collective appeal.

Entrepreneurs from the regions are supported by a well-known Moscow businessman Dmitry Potapenko, the managing partner of Managment Development Group (which a network of kiosksamong ther things). However, he is convinced that no dialogue with the government will be established. In September 2011, "Opora Russia" has sent to President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin a petition signed by more than three thousand of Russian businessmen, asking to protect the rights of kiosk owners. The only answer they got was "a very unprofessional runaround" from the Ministry of Health and Social Development, says Vladlen Maksimov, the vice-president of the Organization for Small and Medium Entrepreneurship "Opora Russia". The only way to defend their business, says Potapenko, is to unite and to demand the protection of their interests. Yesterday's online campaign can be considered the first step.

May we remind that the draft law "On protection of public health from the effects of tobacco consumption," prepared by the Ministry of Health and Social Development drastically limits the retail sale of tobacco products in the shopping centers of area less than 50 m2. It has already been decided to ban the beer sales at such kiosks starting from 2013.

Small retail outlets are indeed under threst. According to the research by Nielsen company, the sales of beer and cigarettes constitute 80% of the revenue in the small-scale retail facilities. Keeping a kiosk without those items makes no sense - by default the consumers are looking for cigarettes and beer at the kiosks, that are usually located near their home, subway station or bus stop; and other goods are bought occasionally.

The entrepreneurs believe that an effective measure in the fight against tobacco and alcohol consumption would be the introduction of a requirement to present ID, following the example of Europeans and Americans, so that the underage youth would not buy beer and cigarettes.