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18 Oct 2012

Belarus – EU border: let them go?

The largest amount of smuggled cigarettes from Belarus was detained by Lithuanian customs officers. The total amount seized is over two million dollars, Internet portal DELFI.lt. reported

In the night from 14 to 15 October at the checkpoint Raigardas Lithuanian customs officers detained two trailers with cigarettes, which houses about 1,600 cartons of smuggled cigarettes. As it turned out, there were three trucks, one of which managed to enter Poland. This information is communicated promptly by Lithuanians to Polish colleagues who then detained cargo 150 kilometers away from the Lithuanian border. In the truck were another 600 boxes of cigarettes.

According to DELFI.lt, Criminal Customs officers received information that on 15 October in Lithuania can bring a large consignment of contraband cigarettes that information sharing with Vilnius College. About four o'clock in the morning at a checkpoint Raigardas a big track came from Belarus, driven by a citizen of Belarus. The driver said he was taking sawdust briquettes, but after inspection the officers found that legitimate cargo trailer was not there , there were boxes of cigarettes Fest, Magnat, NZ instead. In total, this truck had  800 boxes (that is 405,000 packs) of cigarettes.

Second truck Renault, which was also driven by a citizen of Belarus, was arrested around 9:00 am. And the driver also declared that he was taking sawdust briquettes. In the trailer it was about 800 cartons of cigarettes.

In total, on checkpoint Raigardas Lithuanian customs officers detained 810,000 packs of cigarettes, worth 5 million 738 thousand LTL or 2 million 157 thousand USD. Both drivers from Belarus were detained for two days.

It is noteworthy that according to the State Border Committee of Belarus for the first 9 months of this year on the Belarusian-Lithuanian border segment in 300 cases, the seizure of over 1.3 million packs of cigarettes, which is one third more than in the previous year and amounted to half of all seizures of contraband tobacco on the borders of Belarus . Lithuanian customs operation, which together with our Polish colleagues once seized nearly the same amount of Belarusian contraband cigarettes, gives some idea of the scale of this illegal cross-border business. And this is only one segment.

Another popular cross border business is moving illegal immigrants through Belarus to the EU. The situation is reminiscent of the early 90-ies of the last century, when immigrants from China, Vietnam, India and other Asian countries, went through The Blued-Eyed to the West for a better life. Now people are a bit different, having a strong Kavkaz accent.

The State Border Committee of Belarus informs:

"The analysis of the operational situation shows that the main threat to border security, faced this year by Belarusian border guards on the border with Lithuania, is associated with the activity of organized international criminal groups to establish stable channels of illegal migration, smuggling of large quantities of inventory, drug trafficking. This year, the failure to comply with the Belarusian-Lithuanian border, taking citizens of the Caucasus region.

The organizers of illegal migration are actively trying to establish channels of moving illegal migrants as refugees from third countries of Africa and Asia. In 2012, on the Lithuanian-Belarusian section for the violation of border and immigration laws by Belarus more than 80 people were detained, mainly nationals of such countries as Afghanistan, China, Egypt, India, Iran, Lebanon, Turkey, Sri Lanka.

At the crossing points illegal migrants are trying to get to the EU with forged documents both their native states  (Congo, Cote d'Ivoire) as well as that of European Union (France, Belgium).

During the first 9 months of this year 1288 were arrested as illegal immigrants and 1097 people were detained as offenders of visa and transit regime  on the territory of Belarus. "

But for many reasons it is impossible to lock the border. According to the Lithuanian media, referring to the State Border Guard Service, only in the first half of the Lithuanian border guards have detained more than 100 citizens of Georgia, who in different ways were illegal in Lithuania. More than half of them were detained at the border with Belarus.

Part of the reasons for this "openness" of the border with Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has hinted at a press conference for Russian regional mass media. "Right now wthey (the EU) have created a little problem - he said. - We are at your own expense, all that comes from Afghanistan via Russia and so on, were caught here, as they were kept in concentration camps and then returned to Russia. Well this year, tens of thousands of people. Explosives, radioactive materials, drugs - we are all eliminated. Why do we need this? They do not come to us ... "

"We are at your own expense to protect them - Lukashenko blamed the European Union. - Well, I say, guys, pay the money, we will continue to protect you. No money - we can not work this way. Heard this well, where it is necessary to hear, and poured over the border. A lot went to Lithuania, Poland and so on ... "

And what does that mean? Here is one of two things: Belarus really does not have the money for a decent defense of their borders, or "semi-transparent" western border  is a tool to to play political games.

According to some analysts, the reports of mass illegal immigration on the western Belarusian border frequent after the EU has introduced a new package of sanctions against a number of Belarusian officials, businessmen and companies' financing Lukashenko's regime. " Very strange way to intimidate the EU and then ask it for money to strengthen the common border. Stick because both ways.

As noted in the State Border Committee of Belarus, "transnational criminal groups and communities are actively trying to smuggle from Lithuania to Belarus large quantities of goods. Also illegal car business is active, which switched to "green" border. Some passages through the Belarusian-Lithuanian border section of major transit highways widely used by organizers of the international supply of  drugs and psychotropic substances from the EU to Russia. "

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