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Lukashenko regime reportedly earns millions of dollars from tobacco smuggling to UK

Lukashenko regime reportedly earns millions of dollars from tobacco smuggling to UK Alexander Lukashenko, Belarusian dictator (Photo: Getty Images)
Author: Daria Shekina

The regime of Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko continues to profit from tobacco sales in the United Kingdom, despite international sanctions, according to

It is noted that the Office for National Statistics of Great Britain considers Belarus to be one of the main suppliers of illegal tobacco products to the British market.

The British government reported that from July 2022 to June 2023, the United Kingdom imported "beverages and tobacco" from Belarus worth over $202 million, which accounted for 96% of all Belarusian supplies to the country.

Both the Department for Business and Trade and the Office for National Statistics, which collects trade data, refused to disclose information on the proportion of illegal tobacco imports from the specified amount.

Media reports indicate that the United Kingdom loses approximately $3.5 billion annually due to unpaid taxes on smuggled tobacco.

Who is helping Lukashenko

Lukashenko uses people from his inner circle as "wallets" to replenish his family's coffers and finance repression.

Among these individuals are the owners of the company Tabak-Invest, Pavlo Topuzidis and Viktor Petrovich, who are among the wealthiest people in the country and have been under U.S. sanctions since December 5, 2023.

They own the LLC Tabak-Invest, which until 2017 was the only private tobacco producer in Belarus, accounting for about 30% of the total production in Belarus.

Belarus is a leader in tobacco smuggling

The news agency points out that Belarus has long been considered one of the world's largest sources of contraband cigarettes and tobacco products.

In 2021, the Customs Department of Lithuania stated that, according to its estimates, 80% of the 328 million contraband cigarettes it seized in 2023 were produced in Belarus.

According to another estimate, about 10% of illegal tobacco entering Great Britain comes from Belarus.

Sanctions against the Lukashenko regime

In early December, the United States imposed sanctions on Belarus. The reason for this was its assistance to Russia in the war and participation in the deportation of Ukrainian children.

And recently, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller stated that the United States condemned the criminal actions of Alexander Lukashenko's regime in Belarus. Washington hinted that it was ready to strengthen sanctions.