Ukraine becomes 'global hub' in supplies of illegal cigarettes to Europe over smuggling
Ukraine over smuggling has become a "global hub" in supplies of illegal cigarettes across the country to European states, Deputy Head of the Office of the President Oleksiy Honcharuk has said.
"Ukraine has become a world hub for the supply of illegal cigarettes to Europe. From China, the United Arab Emirates through Odesa, Belarus, Moldova, from uncontrolled territories [of Donbas] through Ukraine, as a kind of a "wild land," illegal cigarettes go to Europe. Do our European colleagues then respect us? This is a rhetorical question. You know perfectly well what regions these smuggling flows go through. Zakarpattia region is not the last on this list," he said at a meeting devoted to arranging border, customs and road infrastructure and chaired by President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky in Uzhgorod on Saturday.
Honcharuk said that the "business model" is well known to everyone, when a person goes abroad, "plastered" with cigarettes, and comes back with products, sometimes even branded ones, which are cleared as off-brand goods.
"In our opinion, the bulk of the smuggling problem lies simply in fraud, when a person writes down one thing and imports another. According to our estimates, about 40% of all the problems that we have from smuggling are just these fakes, deception," he said.
Honcharuk said that another 25% of smuggling is the so-called "zelenka."
"Crossing rivers, tunnels, the border. These things are much more difficult to stop, but we will present our vision," he added.
The deputy head of the Office of the President said that another approximately 20% of the smuggled products are "jackets" and "empty vehicles when you are supposedly driving empty, but in fact you have everything there." "Jackets" are when people are organized to travel abroad and deliver the quantity of goods that everyone has the right to import," he said, explaining this term to citizens at the request of Zelensky.
Honcharuk said that each region "specializes in its own way" in matters of smuggling – "someone on spare parts, someone on cigarettes, somewhere they are logging in forests."