16:58 29.01.2021

Smuggling condemned by less than 10% of Ukrainians – study

3 min read

KYIV. Jan 29 (Interfax-Ukraine) – Smuggling has become a part of the life of Ukrainians, because the country's population predominantly justifies "smuggling schemes," having benefits from them, Ihor Tyshkevych, an expert in Programs for International and Domestic Policy of the Ukrainian Institute of the Future (UIF), has said, commenting on the results of a sociological survey conducted by the UIF.

On Friday, at the press center of Interfax-Ukraine, the Ukrainian Institute of the Future presented the results of the "Smuggling during Pandemic" sociological study.

"According to the survey, 56.5% of Ukrainians (47.2% of residents of border areas) are confident in the legality of consumer goods in their use. In 2019, the indicators were 46.2% and 42.2%, respectively. Positive dynamics can be traced as in general data on the country and in the border regions," Tyshkevych said.

At the same time, he said that there is disappointing news, since the population still justifies smuggling, having a profit from them, and the level of critical attitude to this problem is low.

"For example, only 5% of employees would like to quit a company involved in smuggling, 5% would write an anonymous letter and only 3.4% would offer their help in preventing illegal activities. In general, citizens' loyalty to smuggling is often caused by the crisis in labor market, especially in border areas," Tyshkevych said.

According to him, the population mainly notes a decrease in the amount of smuggled goods in trade. However, citizens continue to massively transport goods across the border in personal luggage.

"The largest number of citizens is involved in the so-called "jacket" scheme, when citizens transport goods across the border as personal luggage. This scheme continues to function during the pandemic, that is, from March 2020, but it is large in volume itself. All other schemes, in the overwhelming majority, continue to be used," the expert said.

Tyshkevych also said that the COVID-19 pandemic has made its own adjustments to international trade. This was manifested, in particular, in a decrease in the number of imported goods in retail outlets in Ukraine and in an increase in their prices.

UIF Executive Director Vadym Denysenko said that smuggling is a political challenge for Ukraine, but the state has not done anything for several years in a row to overcome it.

"The state does not notice such problems as smuggling, since over the past four years four heads of customs have been replaced, but NABU opened only one criminal case, and this was during the time of [the presidency of Petro] Poroshenko. However, this is the direct jurisdiction of NABU. One gets the impression that this topic is taboo for the team of [director of National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine] Artem Sytnyk," Denysenko said.

The Ukrainian Institute of the Future launched a smuggling research project supported by PMI Impact in 2019. In 2020-2021, according to the speakers of the event, the Institute will begin the second stage, during which the mechanics of the processes will be analyzed in depth and the dynamics of smuggling will be assessed.