AMBASSADOR'S BLOG - WHY ODESA DRUG BUSTS ARE GOOD NEWS

11.10.10




Why are three huge drug hauls great news for Ukraine in general and Odesa in particular?  Because they show how practical law enforcement cooperation between Ukrainian and foreign agencies can bring real results. 

I recently visited Odesa and had useful talks with Governor Matviychuk and Mayor Hurvits about how to improve the business climate and generate investment opportunities.  I also met representatives of the British community (excellent bunch) and enjoyed a fascinating visit to the Odesa National Law Academy, where I met Sergey Kivalov, President of the Academy, talked with students, and visited the British Council, which is housed at the Academy.  Here are news reports of my meeting with the Mayor and my interview after meeting the Governor (video). 

My visit came shortly after three huge seizures of drugs being smuggled through the port of Odesa in June and July.  One of the seizures was of 1,192 kilos of cocaine; another was over 582 kilos.  These were the largest seizures of cocaine ever in Ukraine and the largest in Europe for many years.  A report from the Ukrainian Security Service, the SBU, is here. You can see some fine pictures from the Ukrainian State Customs site showing the drugs being extracted from their hiding places here.  Congratulations too all concerned.  The details are relevant because such seizures can only come about through strong cooperation between he Ukrainian law enforcement community and their colleagues in other countries, including SOCA (the Serious Organised Crime Agency) in the UK.  Effective action against drug smuggling not only shows Ukrainian authorities cooperating effectively with their international counterparts; it is shows, potentially, progress in tackling corruption, since smugglers often pay bribes to ensure trouble-free passage of their wares.  So let us hope that these welcome seizures are part of a wider trend to tackle corruption and improve the business climate more generally both in Odesa and in the rest of Ukraine.   

PS: Odesa remains one of my favourite Ukrainian cities.  You can see why in my blog from a private visit there last year.

Leigh Turner
British Ambassador to Ukraine


NOTE:  You can read all of Ambassador Turner's blogs by visiting: http://blogs.fco.gov/roller/turner 


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