Alexander Laznenko of the Smolensk Region Border Agency tells Tass news agency that the smugglers used heavy earth-moving equipment at night to “widen and raise the gravel track, and put in more turning and passing points” — right under the noses of the local authorities.
Earlier this month, customs officers ambushed a convoy of nine lorries there laden with 175 tonnes of Greek and Polish fruit worth 13m roubles (£154,000; $200,000), but are none the wiser about who upgraded the road through the tiny Russian village of Klimenki.
Local administration chief Sergei Listopadov said villagers have come forward to say they saw crews working on the road earlier this year. He joked to RIA Novosti news agency that he’d like to write their mysterious benefactor a “letter of thanks” for improving a road that only a horse and cart could negotiate before.
But Mr Laznenko doesn’t see the funny side. He says customs officers have put the 4.5km (2.7 mile) track under constant surveillance but, as they do not have the authority to barricade or dig it up, they will have to rely on catching the smugglers out.
Russia announced a ban on food imports from the European Union last year, in retaliation for an EU trade embargo over Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. Since then, the number of lorries crossing legally from Belarus has increased dramatically in the last year to 73,000, all of which Russian customs have to inspect for banned foodstuffs, Mr Laznenko says.
Social media users tend to agree with Mr Listopadov, though. “At least someone is maintaining our roads,” one person writes, a sentiment echoed in many other comments on RIA Novosti’s site. Some even suggest the smugglers should form a party to stand in next month’s parliamentary elections on a “Let our lorry through, and we’ll fix your potholes” platform.
Yale University will receive 136.20 euros ($153) in interest on a perpetual bond issued in 1648 from Dutch water authority de Stichtse Rijnlanden.
The 1,000 guilder-bond ($509), which is written on goatskin, is among five of the world’s oldest bonds that still pay interest, according to Clarion Wegerif, a spokeswoman for the water authority. The money will be paid out on Monday.
Yale contacted the agency to collect the interest, Wegerif said in a phone interview from Houten, the Netherlands. “We’ll be handing out a symbolic check and wire the rest.”
Yale, which has an endowment of $23.9 billion, paid 24,000 euros to acquire the bond in 2003 as an artifact. The university hasn’t been paid interest since the acquisition, according to the agency. The bond was issued to pay for a small pier in the Netherlands’s Lek river.