Sunday, 21 April 2013

Russian postal service chief sacked

Pochta Rossii Chief Executive Alexander Kiselyov has been sacked, Russia’s Communications Ministry said Friday, in an apparent response to mounting accusations of inefficiency as Russia’s postal service struggled to deal with hundreds of tons of backlogged international packages. On Thursday Kiselyov, who had headed the Russian postal service since February 2009, suggested that the government create a special commission to deal with a backlog of international packages that reached 500 tons last week. A moratorium on international mail at Sheremetyevo Aiport was announced Wednesday by the local mail processing company Airport Moscow, who said it would not be unloading any mail until the backlog of packages at Pochta Rossii’s airport department at Sheremetyevo was reduced to 40 tons. Kiselyov has been replaced by Dmitry Strashnov, former CEO of telecoms operator Tele2 Russia, who quit the job on the eve of the purchase of the former subsidiary of the Swedish Tele2 by the VTB Bank. He is the fifth person to head Pochta Rossii since 2007. But the problems at the postal service go deeper than its leadership, an expert said. “Unfortunately, this won’t help,” Kirill Kabanov, head of the National Anti-Corruption Committee told The Moscow New. “There is still lack of a development strategy, it’s connected to corruption.” Pochta Rossii sounded an alarm last week over some 500 tons of backlogged packages, most of them online shopping orders that have not passed through customs due to staffing issues. Since then, the backlog has been reduced to 150 tons. “Today’s situation would not be happening if we had just been heard,” Pochta Rossii said in an official statement on Thursday, citing plans to open additional sorting departments at airports that were not agreed with the authorities in time. It has blamed the problems on staffing issues at the Customs Service. Russia’s postal service has increasingly been under fire for delays and inefficiency, with up to 20 percent of correspondences not reaching their addressees on time, according to figures from the Communications Ministry. But problems are exacerbated by a worn-out Soviet-era infrastructure. Out of 42,000 postal departments, 70 percent are operating at a loss. Meanwhile, 65 percent of correspondence is still sorted by hand, according to RIA Novosti. Last week, the government ordered Pochta Rossii to be transferred under the direct control of the Communications Ministry in an attempt to improve efficiency, according to an official statement posted on the government’s site. Days later, Kiselyov sent a letter to Customs Service chief Andrei Belyaninov asking him to look into the problem, after complaints from Deutsche Post earlier last month that postal packages sent to Russia were not reaching their destinations. Postal traffic is expected to continue growing as an increasing number of people order products online. If the Russia’s postal service delivered 2.3 million packages ordered online in 2009, by 2012 that number had grown to 17 million.

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