After a adventurous travel to Russia by car and trailer, fully loaded with gongs and studio equipment, the Gong Master is finally back in town. The logistics with gongs is one thing, but customs regulations at borders are probably the most complex things a musician must handle while traveling around the world with heavy instruments.
CARNET ATA is the word of the season 2016... Konstantin was well aware of the tight regulations and wanted to make all right by organizing a international accepted customs document, called Carnet ATA. This turned out to become the most complicated customs situation he ever had to handle.
Happy to have this documents he drove to the border between Latvia and Russia and after 14 hours full on diplomatic efforts and getting through all levels of customs processing - managed to get the stamps to enter Russia, but with the duty to show up at the customs office in Moscow after the follwing weekend. So, he drove to Moscow, had 3 wonderful gong events at the Yoga Journal Marathon charity, a gong meditation at Prana Yoga center and a sunrise gong celebration with a spiritual cummunity in the woods outside of Moscow for the midsummer day.
Showing up at customs in Moscow the situation became more complicated, when they asked for additional documents and until those documents are delivered the car, trailer plus all equipment must be parked at the customs area for a daily parking fee of 12000 Rubles, which is equally to 170 Euro. Alternative the inspectors offered him to travel back to Latvia with all the equipment, print the additional documents and re-enter again. Well, this was a far cheaper option, besides the fact, that this meant an addition 1500 km road trick back and forth...
So, Konstantin took this option and drove back to Latvia, printed 2 additional documents (photos of his equipment and 1 page of technical specs for 1 wireless microphone) and happy to finally have all what's requested driving back to the border.
This time it took him 21 hours at the exact same border and to get finally rejected, because the first enter to Russia already used up the needed documents from this Carnet, but nobody at customs Moscow told him about this problem.
Trying all options, he attended a private crossing without using the carnet which was unsuccessful and after that driving to Riga where Konstantin tried to get a cargo company to help him with this issue. The first cargo company rejected him and the second looked into his carnet and they told him, that the Russians did in fact use it incorrectly, based on the international standard. They used the transit forms, which are not of their concern, since he did not transit any third country, coming directly from EU and trying to enter the final destination Russia. The paper they should stamp was the import paper and they didn't. It became clear, that a air cargo shipment with this documents would be impossible too and without a customs fee in Russia of about 7000 Euro would be the only solution. This was no option at all, so again he took a hotel room in Riga, stayed there for 3 nights and tried to find a solution. His friend Valerie in Kaliningrad did some online research on the Russion customs regulations site and found out, that indeed the Russians seem to handle a carnet their very own way, stamping transit and sending the cargo to the customs in the city of destination, where the import document would get processed finally.
The carnet was a full mess and Konstantin decided to drive back to the town Rezekne, which was just 50km away from the border, getting him self a hotel room until finding a solution. Luckily the carnet issuing office in Germany agreed to send him the missing docs which got used by his first entry and he had to wait a week to receive the mail from there.
When the docs finally arrived he was very happy and motivated to finally be able to enter Russia after spending nearly 3 weeks in Latvia and losing a lot of money and gigs in Moscow which he had to cancel, since he couldn't enter Russia with his instruments.
Equipped with the upgraded carnet he drove again to the border and ones more he got rejected, because this time they complained about the exit stamps of the Latvian side being outdated, but he could not get new ones, since those papers were also fully stamped and no way to order those per mail. He would need to drive back the 2000 km to Bavaria, where he is registered to get a new carnet. There is no other way of getting a carnet or replacing the missing papers at a local customs office in Latvia.
This was the final try - there was no more way of entering Russia with this carnet.
Again he took a hotel room in Rezekne and while talking on WhatsApp with Valerie, she told him about her experience of getting a full set of bedroom furniture over the border, by using the private line with friends in the car. The maximum weight to enter Russia is 50kg per person. She suggested to give it a try and asking some people to cross the border with him in the car - pretending to be a band. He knew, that the limit was not only 50kg, but also a maximum value of 1500 EUR and his equipment was valid ten times more, so it was clear he had to lie about the true value and give this a try.
Viktor, the owner of the apartment in Rezekne, where Konstantin was renting this falt for some days, offered his help and organized 3 guys who asked for 20 EUR per head to do the job.
Konstantin put all on one card and took his last chance to cross the border in underground style and after 5 hours of border checking it was finally successful.
After spending around 2000 Euro, losing 3 weeks and important gigs, by trying the official way, he finally got successful for 60 EUR and lying about the true value of his gongs.
Customs regulations are terrible complicated and most people would have given up already after the first unsuccessful try, but Konstantin didn't and with the full mental support of his closed friends, Valerie, Jens, Maria, Yulia and all the others who offered their help and cared by sending him motivating messages, it finally worked.
The magic date to enter was the 10th of July 2016 and just after arriving in Russia while driving towards Mocow, a wonderful rainbow appeared over the road, like a cosmic symbol of happiness and a portal of light to Moscow. Interesting on this date is, that after some customs issues in the previous year at Moscow airport it happened to be the exact same date when he got out the gongs from customs, the 10th of July 2015.
Magic seemed back and the battle was a full victory.
On the 13th of July Konstantin invited all friends in Moscow to join him at the Moscow river in the Silver Pine Forest for a free gong meditation, to celebrate this happy end and his arrival in Moscow.