Kyiv, December 22, 2015. Ukrainian walnut exporters’ freights to the European Union are delayed at the customs. The delay is from several weeks to a month. The situation is almost similar in all the cases. The freight successfully passes phyto-sanitary test. Nevertheless, following the approval customs officers take samples again on the basis of a letter from the Security Service of Ukraine. A number of the biggest walnut exporters from different regions of Ukraine faced this problem. “Only in December walnut to the sum exceeding 1 million dollars was blocked. It is the total value of contracts in terms of the amount of walnut delayed at different customs of the country,” said Alisa Yurchenko, special correspondent of ‘Nashi Hroshi’ (Our Money) TV-program at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. The journalist repeatedly shot TV spots on walnut business and its oppression exerted by the Security Service.
Two trucks of Nutsy LLC carrying freight to the sum of 123 thousand dollars intended for a Lithuanian and two Belorussian companies are being delayed at Zakarpattia customs for over a month. The company submitted documents for customs clearance on November 14-15, having obtained phyto-sanitary certificate by that time. The customs took walnut for analysis by other characteristics again. Many exporting companies faced similar situation. Every day of delay results in huge penalties for the companies and poses a threat to their business. 100 tons of freight of Prymed LLC to the sum of 700 thousand euro has been blocked at the customs since November 16. “We are incurring losses every day. We have lost over 2 million UAH by now. We are paying penalties to our European customers instead of paying taxes to the state,” resents Nina Melnychenko from Kyiv walnut exporting company Prymed LLC. 18 tons of nut belonging to TORRO company from Ivano-Frankivsk to the sum of 50 thousand USD were delayed at the customs. According to the director of the company Oleh Osypov, each day of delay costs 150 euro. Entrepreneurs say that retorting to any state agencies results in being directed to the Security Service of Ukraine, which “gives no answer at all”. Foreign partners incur losses as well. “We, importers, do not understand the situation that exists in Ukraine. We are working with enterprises operating on the market for many years,” said representative of Lithuanian company РАСРНА, Virmantas Vilrazunas. The company was trying to solve the situation, providing a special certificate on absence of claims to their Ukrainian partners and does not require the abovementioned expertise. It also retorted to the corresponding agencies in Ukraine, but “there was no progress whatsoever”. Vilrazunas added that this situation looks very strange, especially taking into consideration that the EU Agreement of Association comes into effect. The company will raise the issue on the level of Lithuanian government, unless the issue has been solved.
Journalist Yurchenko’s communication with customs officers resulted in information that “there are no questions whatsoever to these freights, but we have some information from the Security Service of Ukraine which does not allow us conduct customs clearance of the nut”. The Security Service explains that these incidents do not attempt at squeezing business, but relate to “countering corruption at phytosanitary service and customs”. “The letters the Security Service sends to the customs refer to certain criminal proceedings on unidentified individuals from the State Fiscal Service,” added Yurchenko. According to Ivan Krichfalushiy from Nutsy LLC, it is about criminal proceedings registered on November 14, 2015 and is being investigated by Kyiv prosecutor’s office. Customs received the corresponding letter from the Security Service obliging customs officers take repeated samples of the goods on December 16, 2015. According to Ukrainian exporters and Yurchenko, all the letters have been initiated by the Head Administration on countering corruption and organized crime of the Security Service of Ukraine. The entrepreneurs are convinced that the mentioned criminal proceeding is nothing more than pretence to squeeze business. “We are being forced to bribe the Security Service,” said Osypov.