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Posts : 6613
Join date : 2015-05-29

Contraband - a million hryvnia trade at Volnovakha - UEN Exclusive

on Wed Aug 19, 2015 1:40 am
I met up with a guy who works in the military. He is stationed at Volnovacha.
I only met him for a few minutes, but here were his initial thoughts.

The contraband trade there is big big money. The Ukrainian Border Guard soldiers, who are currently based there, control the contraband trade. It seems strange to those of us in the west that guys who might work normally at customs posts around the country, or even at Borispol airport, are taking big big bribes for allowing through truck loads of materials, food, to the Donbass. But anybody with experience of travelling to Ukraine over the past 20 years knows how corrupt the officials are, and their liking for money.

My contact said they (collectively) make 60,000 grivna each day. EACH DAY. (And this only at Volnovakha). Now - when your average salary in the Border Guard is probably 3000 hryvnia a month, that is big money.
The big guy in charge takes home about one million hryvnia after his stint there - normally six month postings. So the reports I posted earlier of soldiers returning from the front line and then buying new cars, gold bracelets for girlfriends, and the like - these reports all make sense now.
A guy who comes back with a million hryvnia is going to want to turn it into something quick - buy a couple of new cars, or whatever.
The person I met joked - normally there were arguments back at their home base about who was going to work day and night (long shift). But now - at Volnovakha - there are arguments because everybody wants to work day and night. Funny. But no wonder with the rewards on offer.

And this is carrying on right across the frontline with the separatists. It is big big business.
Example - he cited beer. A bottle can now sell in Donetsk for 70 hryvnia. But in Ukraine you can buy it was 12 or 14. That is a big mark up. Allow a lorry of beer across the checkpoint, and people are making a big big profit.
Looking at google, a big truck might carry 25000 bottles of beer. Even with 10,000 you get a profit of about 550,000 hryvnia. One truck.

I also heard - by phone - from an officer in Starobelsk. He wants to be transferred to Volnovakha. He realises there is lots of money to be made there. It is the checkpoints on the approach to Donetsk where the big money is made.

Two other points I picked up on -
both these soldiers said that the locals are mostly hostile, and do not want Ukrainian soldiers there.
The guy I met said about 80% of the population were against them.
[Of course, you could argue, that, situated on the frontline, Putin is going to shell their houses, so they would rather the frontline be somewhere else... ]
He also said that the death figures were being massively under counted. So as not to alarm people.
Their job is to check all vehicles. One ambulance they stopped had 12 bodies in it. But only official military deaths are reported. Those from other batallions - volunteers - are not mentioned at all.  
And the guys in the ambulance were going to head back to collect somebody else who was injured.

Now - in the past week, the police have arrived there, and also the SBU.
So the Border Guard soldiers currently posted at Volnovakha are not happy about this.
In a normal country, one might think that the illegal trade would stop. But no - this is Ukraine.
The soldiers are not happy because now they have to share their takings with the police and the SBU guys.
Everybody wants their cut - total corruption at all levels - military, police, SBU.
And so the profits for the soldiers have been cut back quite a bit in the past week or so.

For the unlucky ones, war means death.
But for others, war means an opportunity to make lots and lots of money.
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