Germany started confiscating cars with Russian license plates

Owners of cars with Russian license plates have begun to complain about the confiscation of their vehicles in Germany: in some cases, authorities consider the import of personal cars as exports of sanctioned goods from Russia to the European Union. According to experts interviewed by RBC, such a strict interpretation of sanctions can lead to controversial situations and violation of property rights.

According to Sergey Glandin, a lawyer and partner at BGP Litigation, the actions of the German authorities are the result of a rough reading of the sanctions rules. We are talking about sectoral regulation 833, which formally prohibits the export from Russia to the European Union of goods specified in Annex 21, which includes cars. At the same time, cars are confiscated despite the fact that they are not going to be sold. Vladislav Starzhenetsky, associate professor at the Department of International Law at the National Research University Higher School of Economics, confirms that such behavior by Germany is the excesses of the executor and too formal an interpretation of the sanctions regimes.

Ivan Koval from Russia, who lives in Germany, told RBC about the seizure of his car. His car was confiscated despite the correct documents. Koval claims that this seizure is a violation of his property rights and filed a complaint with the Hamburg prosecutor’s office. A similar case, previously described by Fontanka, occurred with Sergey, a resident of St. Petersburg who was traveling with his family in Europe. His car was also confiscated, citing sanctions.

According to the sanctions decree (Article 3i No. 833/2014), it is forbidden in the European Union to buy, import or transit goods listed in Annex 21 of this document if these goods bring significant revenue to Russia and could destabilize the situation in Ukraine, the German customs authorities said. The agency’s representative stressed that the document mentions cars, so they are, in principle, subject to a ban.

“Customs monitors compliance with the EU anti-Russian sanctions in the import, export and transit of goods. In case of detection of possible violations of the sanctions during the entry of individuals, the customs authorities act within their powers”, German customs officials notified.

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