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Zakarpattia governor doesn't able to fight "cigarette mafia", asked to dismiss him from post

Zakarpattia governor doesn't able to fight "cigarette mafia", asked to dismiss him from postHead of Zakarpattia Regional State Administration Hennadiy Moskal has asked Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman to submit a proposal on Moskal's resignation to President Petro Poroshenko.

In a statement published on his official website on Friday morning, the governor said that he took this decision in connection with the replacement of the chief of the Zakarpattia customs office, which was done without consulting with him. In Moskal's opinion, this was done in the interest of "the cigarette mafia" engaged in smuggling tobacco products to the EU, which he is currently trying to fight.

"This appointment hasn't been agreed with Zakarpattia Regional State Administration… Thus, I do not see the point of my continuing as the head of Zakarpattia Regional State Administration. Therefore, I am asking you to exercise your constitutional right envisaged in Article 118 of the Constitution of Ukraine and send a request to the president of Ukraine to dismiss me from this post," the statement said.

According to Moskal, after the personnel changes were made following the armed conflict in Mukacheve in the summer of 2015 which was caused by the redistribution of flows of contraband cigarettes from Ukraine to the EU, the situation has stabilized.

"The systemic smuggling of tobacco products to Germany, Spain, Italy, France, and Great Britain was stopped, and the well-organized network of illegal shipments of cigarettes by trucks was broken down. However, international criminal groups... are trying to resume the systemic smuggling of tobacco products, using the influence of Ukrainian politicians and heads of individual departments," Moskal said.

According to him, at the moment some 200 trucks loaded with cigarettes, which were produced in Belarus, Moldova, Russia and the United Arab Emirates as well as in the occupied territories of Donetsk region and Crimea, and imported to Ukraine through corruption schemes, are waiting in Kyiv and Kyiv region. "To get these trucks with cigarettes into the EU, it is necessary to replace the chief of the Zakarpattia customs office for 'the right man' who will work under a specific scheme," the regional administration head said.

To achieve this goal, a situation with the detention of 22 railway cars loaded with timber in the town of Chop was used, Moskal said. He said that the timber was provided by Uzhgorod military forestry, and that some of it came from the neighboring forestry in Lviv region which is subordinated directly to of Ukraine's State Agency for Forest Resources. "The regional state administration has no direct impact on the forest industry, which was monopolized during the presidency of Viktor Yanukovych," the governor said.

According to him, then chairman of the State Fiscal Service of Ukraine Roman Nasirov was instructed to conduct an internal investigation and staff reshuffles, but he replaced the head of Zakarpattia regional customs without waiting for the results of the investigation, because the law on civil service on the appointment of all government officials on a competitive basis entered into force on May 1. What is more, the dismissed head of the Zakarpattia customs Volodymyr Kolesnikov was on a sick leave, when he was dismissed, which is against the law, the regional governor said.

On April 30 assistant of MP Valeriy Patskan, Andriy Krymsky was appointed acting chief of the regional customs office, Moskal said. "I emphasize that this appointment was not discussed with Zakarpattia Regional State Administration," he said.

Read also: Ukraine, Romania signed agreement on joint border patrolling

"At the moment, Zakarpattia witnesses a repetition of the situation that led to the bloody events of July 11, 2015 in Mukacheve. And I can not remain a bystander. It is impossible to overcome smuggling in a separate region under conditions where the central authorities not only aren't helping, but on the contrary are trying to return the shady schemes... Zakarpattia has been left at the mercy of smugglers and the green light has been given for illegal movement of cigarettes across the state border. When the battle against the smuggling began I was warned that this is what would happen. Unfortunately, these predictions are coming true," Moskal said.
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