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Inflow of Smuggled Cigarettes Rises 20 Times – Uncontrolled Smuggling via the river Enguri Bridge

Inflow of smuggled cigarettes on Georgian market has increased 20 times. According to the Commersant, in 2016 law enforcers seized 26 000 boxes of smuggled tobacco products. The figure exceeded 0.5 million boxes in 2017.

A courier bought smuggled cigarettes with Abkhaz excise mark in the center of Zugdidi, Samegrelo Region, nearby the local fair. The store personnel does not think trades in smuggled products violates the legislation.

Almost all trade outlets in Zugdidi sell smuggled products without problems. The stores trade in not only tobacco products smuggled from the occupied territory of Abkhazia, but also other products.

Local couriers say smugglers know very well, when it is appropriate time to cross the river Enguri without problems and then to carry products through woodlands on the territory controlled by Georgian Authorities.

There are four checkpoints of the occupation regime beyond the river Enguri. The same number of checkpoint operate in Samegrelo. Opposition members assert that bribes go to high-ranking officials and they cooperate with representatives of the occupied regime.

Murtaz Zodelava, head of Samegrelo Branch of United National Movement, asserts that David the smuggling network was organized by the so-called guerrillas many years ago.

The Governor Shonia refused to answer questions. He only noted that there is no problem in inflow and sales of smuggled products. The Governor and State Security Service control filbert business in the Region, Zodeleva added.