Ukraine's Foreign Ministry has not issued any permit for shipment of diplomatic cargo or mail to the husband of the first secretary of the Ukrainian Embassy in Slovakia, Oksana Lischyshyn, who was detained when transporting contraband cigarettes, Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine Vadym Prystaiko said.
"The Foreign Affairs Ministry has not given this family any right to use any of our vehicles or our facilities, and no mail has been handed to them – diplomatic or otherwise," Prystaiko said at a briefing in Kyiv on Monday.
The deputy minister noted that the Foreign Ministry expected to receive a copy of the letter signed by the first secretary of the Ukrainian Embassy in Slovakia, the existence of which was earlier reported by Head of Zakarpattia Regional State Administration Hennadiy Moskal.
"I want to see the letter that will convince me that the embassy employee, and not just a member of their family, has been involved [in smuggling]," he said adding that there were two people in the car: the relative of the diplomat and a driver.
He said that if the existence of such a letter is confirmed, the embassy official will be recalled to Ukraine and will be held responsible in accordance with Ukrainian legislation.
According to the deputy minister, the ambassador of Ukraine to Slovakia is aware of the incident on the border, but as of Saturday he knew nothing about the existence of the letter.
"If the ambassador was not aware [of the situation], it is bad. It is even worse if he knew, but did nothing. In this case, the Foreign Ministry will make a relevant proposal [about his dismissal] to the head of state," Prystaiko said.
The deputy minister also said that a diplomatic passport alone does not give any right to evade customs inspection. "Only diplomats that work abroad and have diplomatic immunity have such a right, Prystaiko said.
The press service of the Zakarpattia regional branch of the State Fiscal Service reported earlier an attempt to smuggle tobacco products across the state border by a holder of a diplomatic passport which was stopped at the Luzhanka checkpoint.
On May 21, 2016, a Volkswagen Transporter van driven by a citizen of Ukraine entered the "green corridor" of the checkpoint. At the customs control, he presented a diplomatic pass of a citizen of Ukraine, a certificate of registration of the vehicle, and a letter of one of Ukraine's embassies that the car is carrying diplomatic cargo, which, in accordance with the law, is not subject to control, the Fiscal Service reported.
On Monday, May 23, Head of Zakarpattia Regional State Administration Hennadiy Moskal said that the detained a Volkswagen Transporter minibus with a cargo of smuggled cigarettes belongs to the Embassy of Ukraine in Slovakia, and its driver is "a resident of Kyiv, Serhiy Lischyshyn, who is the husband of the first secretary of the Ukrainian Embassy in Slovakia."
Moskal said the smuggler presented the customs and border guards "a diplomatic passport and a letter signed by his wife", according to which the minibus was transporting diplomatic cargo on May 21-24 and was not subject to control. "When customs officers suspecting that the van was carrying contraband, began to insist on the inspection, Lischyshyn expressed his outrage and started threatening to call the consul.
"Customs officers contacted the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry and after obtaining a permit the inspection of the minibus revealed 5,685 cartons of cigarettes worth UAH 620,000," Moskal's press office quoted him as saying.