Siberian Tax Collectors Reportedly Holding Cats Hostage

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Well, this may be a new low, even for Siberian tax collectors.

kittens arrestedThe Itar-TASS news agency (via the BBC) reported in August that cотрудники Томского управления Федеральной службы судебных приставов, не найдя у должницы другого имущества, наложили арест на четырех породистых котят. In other words (English ones), officials of the Federal Bailiff Service (Tomsk Department) "arrested four kittens" as security for a 40,000-ruble debt. In this particular case, the owner had failed to make payments she owed to a company pension fund, so this wasn't a tax debt, they were just seizing "property" to satisfy a judgment.

But the BBC also reported that tax collectors in Novosibirsk got someone to pay 12,000 rubles in back taxes by threatening to seize four of his cats:

When bailiffs arrived at the student's flat, they initially found nothing of value worth seizing—that is until they spied the British Shorthair cat he was holding and three of its kittens running around the place. "Because the animals are pedigree and expensive, the representative of the law decided to place the cat brood under arrest," Interfax quotes a statement from the region's court marshal's service.

Their link to the Interfax report is broken, but in this case I'll go with it anyway given the BBC's generally good reputation and the difficulty of independently researching alleged Siberian cat-brood seizures. 

Nor are cats the only animals being taken hostage by Russian officials, according to another Interfax report, this one from Krasnoyarsk and dated just a few days ago. There, bailiffs were trying to collect on a 20,000-ruble judgment for an unpaid utility bill. Apparently seeing nothing else worth grabbing here as well, "[o]бъектом внимания судебного пристава стал кот британской короткошерстной породы по кличке Ясмин и пушистый домашний кролик," or in English, "they became interested in a British Shorthair cat named Yasmin and a fluffy pet rabbit." (I know just enough Russian to be confident that the report's describing the pet rabbit as "fluffy," not talking about "Fluffy the pet rabbit.") They nabbed both pending payment of the debt.

While Russia really has come a long way, the "related stories" box at the end of the Interfax report suggests that the economy still has a long way to go because bailiffs and tax collectors are clearly still taking whatever they can get.

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