About 60% of attempts to smuggle cigarettes is recorded through ports, in general, tobacco products are most popular among other smuggled goods, First Deputy Head of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine Volodymyr Nikiforenko has said.
“More than 60% of smuggling is detected in ports. There are significant consignments of seized cigarettes. For example, one of the recent large consignments detained is estimated at about UAH 80 million,” he said at a press conference at Interfax-Ukraine on Wednesday.
According to Nikiforenko, in general, this year the State Border Guard Service suppressed attempts of illegal movement of tobacco products across the border about 750 times, seized 12 million packages of cigarettes.
“During this year, our colleagues and partners, and we interact with law enforcement agencies of countries adjacent to Ukraine, note a 50-67% fall in the volume of smuggling from Ukraine to Europe,” he said.
The first deputy head of the State Border Guard Service added that drones and small aircraft are often used to supply cigarette contraband.
“There are indicative episodes when we detained a plane that launched from Cherkasy region and was moving to the Romanian border. In just one day, it violated the airspace four times. The plane was detained, criminal proceedings are underway,” Nikiforenko said.
With regard to the fight against smuggling of cigarettes, Nikiforenko supported the legislative initiative to return criminal responsibility for smuggling an excisable group of goods.
“We are losing in the influence on the development of the criminal situation in the border zone to our neighbors, where the law enforcement influence on these processes is tougher. This encourages wider population to this illegal activity. Where there is administrative responsibility, our Romanian neighbors can bring to criminal responsibility with serious consequences: for 10 boxes of cigarettes you can get five years in prison. Romanians are less involved in this [smuggling], while in Ukraine many settlements “specialize” in this for years,” Nikiforenko said, adding that only about 2% of cigarettes with a Ukrainian excise label are seized on the border, while the rest is counterfeit and smuggling from other countries.
State-owned Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority (USPA) has said it eliminated pollution of the sea next to the sunken tanker Delfi in the area of Dolphin Beach. The enterprise insists on solving the problem of raising it, stressing that the ship owner must do this, USPA’s press service said on Thursday.
“The administration of the seaports of Ukraine, taking into account the active discussion of this issue by the public, emphasizes that the only legal way to solve the problem with the emergency tanker is to carry out all the work and eliminate the consequences of the incident directly and exclusively by the owner,” the statement said.
At the same time, the state-owned enterprise notes that the USPA does not have any legal grounds for independently raising the vessel. According to Article 123 of the Merchant Shipping Code, USPA will receive such a right only if a number of conditions and circumstances independent of it arise directly:
– the owner of the vessel will not ensure its recovery within the time limits established by the captain of the port (State services of sea and river transport of Ukraine). USPA will have the right to raise the vessel no earlier than July 20, 2020;
– the State Environmental Inspectorate provides an appropriate document stating that the tanker poses an immediate threat to environmental pollution;
– the owner of the vessel documents the readiness and undertakes to compensate USPA SE the cost of the work;
– the captain of the port of Odesa grants permission to raise property that has sunk within the water area of the seaport.
“If at least one of the above conditions does not occur, the right (and in this case the obligation) to raise and remove the vessel will remain solely with the owner. As of June 23, USPA received an official, clear and unambiguous refusal for compensation of expenses, and also assured of a full understanding of the responsibility and financial, organizational and technical readiness of the ship owner to raise his own ship,” USPA said.
At the same time, as noted in the message, organizationally, USPA was ready as early as April 1, 2020 (the deadline originally set by the port captain). Tender documentation was worked out and agreed and funds are provided in the financial plan.
According to the latest data from the state-owned enterprise, the work execution plan provided by the ship owner was worked out and agreed by the captain of the Odesa Sea Port and the State Environmental Inspectorate. Based on the above, the activation of the preparatory work, at the request of the ship owner, the deadline for the completion of the work on cleaning the tanker from the Odesa beach by the port captain has been extended.
Earlier, the State Environmental Inspectorate reported that according to the results of samples taken by Ukraine’s State Ecological Inspectorate, the content of oil products in the Black Sea near the Dolphin beach (Odesa) is 16.4 times higher than the permissible concentration.
As reported, in the Gulf of Odesa, the Delfi tanker under the flag of Moldova suffered a disaster – the ship broke anchor.
USPA said initially the tanker was in neutral waters and did not apply for entry into the Odesa or “South” sea ports. But later a signal was given that the ship was in distress, it was left without fuel, with an inoperative engine. In this regard, the Odesa Rescue Coordination Center, which received the signal, began to take measures to eliminate the emergency. It was agreed to tow the tanker to Ochakiv port.
On the night of November 22, Delfi managed to gain an anchor at a distance of about 1 mile from the coast near the Dolphin Beach. However, according to USPA, at 5:00, the vessel began drifting again. On the evening of the same day, rescuers managed to evacuate three crew members from the ship. They were hospitalized, doctors reported overwork and hypothermia.
The owner of the vessel had to take measures by March 31, 2020 to raise and remove the sunken tanker from the waters of Odesa Sea Port. On April 1, the prosecutor took control of the case.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Infrastructure has announced competitions for the transfer of the property of the state companies Olvia Stevedoring Company (Mykolaiv) and Kherson Maritime Merchant Port and the relevant property of the Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority. According to an article published in the government newspaper Uriadovy Kurier, the concession for Olvia will be granted for 35 years, while the one for Kherson port will be granted for 30 years.
The main task for the two pilot projects is to bring international practices and technology to Ukrainian ports.
By law, the competition and determination of a winner must be completed in a little over three months.
The concessionaires are expected to provide a total of UAH 17.3 billion in investment for Olvia and UAH 1.4 billion for Kherson port. Investment will be aimed at renovating infrastructure and developing the ports.
Plans for the first three years include the construction of a new grain terminal with a capacity of 2 million tonnes per year at Olvia (UAH 1.56 billion) and high-priority modernization at Kherson port (UAH 216 million).
According to the Ministry of Infrastructure, more than 25 companies from Ukraine, the United States, China, France, Switzerland, the UK, Japan, Turkey, Qatar, and South Korea have expressed interest in the concessions. Nibulon, one of Ukraine’s biggest grain traders, said it might invest in Kherson port.
Qatar has showed its interest in concession of Olvia and Kherson seaports, Ukraine’s Infrastructure Ministry has reported on its website. The ministry said that the Ukrainian Sea Port Authority has signed a memorandum of understanding with Qatar ports management company Mwani Qatar, envisaging cooperation aimed at boosting cargo flow between seaports of Ukraine and Qatar, in particular, exports of agricultural products made in Ukraine to Qatar. In addition, it is planned to attract Qatar investments in port infrastructure facilities to include marine terminals in international supply chains.
“The signing of the memorandum opens the way for the further implementation of many projects… First of all, we are talking about the concession of the ports Olvia and Kherson. Qatar is also interested in cooperation in the Yuzhny port, which, according to the strategy of the Ukrainian Sea Port Authority, will start servicing large vessels that can pass the Bosporus Strait in the coming years,” Head of the Authority Raivis Veckagans said.
In turn, Minister of Transport and Communications of the State of Qatar Jassim Saif Ahmed Al Suleithi said that the development of cooperation with Ukraine in the port and aviation spheres is promising for Qatar and confirmed the intention to develop the launch of direct flights between Doha and Lviv at the bilateral level.