Two thirds of all sanctions goods imported to Belarus go to the “Beltamozhservice” — an organization that is 100% owned by the Customs Committee. Ten percent of these products are bought by the customs company itself. This was stated by the Russian Federal Customs Service (FCS) within the investigation of smuggling of products which fall under the Moscow’s sanction list.
Majority of them belong to Belarusians. All of these companies have been linked to the three largest importers of products in Belarus, which are banned in Russia: “Beltamozhservice”, “Gas Venchure” and “Globalkastom”. The Russian side does not provide any direct evidence of their involment in smuggling operations, but it appeals to the logic of numbers. According to them, in recent years, the export of Belarusian products to Russia increased by approximately the same amount as the import of these goods to Belarus from countries against which Russia had imposed sanctions.
Former MP and well-known businessman Syarhei Skrabets says that businessmen favored by the authorities of Belarus started smuggling sanctioned goods to Russia as early as 1990s. Among these goods were American chicken, alcohol, sugar, milk, meat, and many others. From Russia, bypassing the local export duties, they exported petroleum products under the guise of solvents.
According to the Federal Customs Service of Russia, starting from 2015, Russian-Belarusian smuggling companies transfered to “Beltamozhservice” and other Belarusian logisticians for illegal fruit and vegetables more than $ 100 million. And this is, according to the FMS, only one fifth of the Belarusian smuggling operations. Chief editor of the portal AGROLIVE.BY notes that it damages the sectors of the Russian agro-industrial complex, which had the opportunity to grow because of the Kremlin’s countersanctions.
Russian customs officials stated that their Central Bank will now block the payments of the importers of sanctioned products to Belarusian counterparties. According to interviewed experts, after the exercise “Zapad 2017” Moscow may take more decisive steps.
Stanislau Ivashkevich, “Belsat”, photo: Yuri Smityuk / TASS / Forum