Zelensky introduces sanctions against top Ukrainian smugglers
President Zelensky signed an order on April 4 to introduce personal sanctions against individuals that “can be named as the top-ten Ukrainian smugglers,” the president’s website reported on the same day. The list was agreed upon on April 2 by the National Security and Defense Council based on information provided by the State Security Service. The sanctions were introduced against ten individuals and 79 companies, involving the blocking of their assets and property for three years, Zelensky stated. He promised that the fight against smuggling would intensify, adding that smugglers bring about UAH 300 bln losses to the state budget annually.
On April 3, zn.ua newspaper published a list of other ten persons who deserve to be in the top-smugglers list. One of the persons listed by the media “owes a bottle to Shefir” after the ultimate list has been published, zn.ua reported. Serhiy Shefir is a friend and advisor to Ukrainian president.
Alexander Paraschiy: It is good that the president pays personal attention to smugglers, but this is not a systemic approach which, among others, raises questions like those offered by zn.ua (why some people are in the list and others are not). As to information from local media, few people from the sanction list are officially suspected of smuggling. That means Zelensky, with his decree, is taking on the work of Ukraine’s law enforcement bodies (which also puts him under the risk of having his decree challenged in courts). Moreover, law enforcement bodies in Ukraine have limited ability to fight against smugglers, as smuggling is not a criminal offence in Ukraine. Therefore, we interpret Zelensky’s move as a step in the right direction, but if that won’t be followed by systemic moves, the step won’t be efficient and only will lead to the re-distribution of the “smuggling market”.