Russia's Taxman Cometh Very Carefully

As tax police are gunned down, the Duma weighs a new code

Mikhail Nikolashin and Valentina Yaroslavtseva jump out of their battered Zhiguli and walk briskly to the door of a plumbing supply shop in the Moscow suburb of Podolsk. Ducking under toilet seats hanging from the ceiling, they approach a sales clerk and flash their badges. A few days earlier, an undercover colleague made a purchase that wasn't rung up on the register. Now, Nikolashin and Yaroslavtseva are investigating whether the business is underreporting sales to avoid paying taxes. Two burly policemen in bulletproof vests stand guard as the investigators confiscate owner Vladimir Zolotov's records. "We pay our taxes on time. We are law-abiding citizens," he protests.

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