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Former Georgian Official Arrested for Tobacco Smuggling in Ukraine

By Tea Mariamidze
Tuesday, December 26
(UZHGOROD, Ukraine) — Ukrainian law enforcers have arrested a citizen of Georgia with a diplomatic passport, who was trying to transfer 180.000 pieces of smuggled cigarettes from Slovakia to Ukraine.

As the state border security service of Ukraine says, the detained person was traveling from Slovakia to Ukraine with a minivan registered in the Czech Republic on December 22.

The Ukrainian police say the detained refused to let them search the minivan. According to the police, the Georgian Embassy to Ukraine and lawyers were involved to conduct the search operation.

TV Company Rustavi 2 reports the detained man is Davit Ghlonti, a husband of Georgia’s Vice-Consul to Ukraine, Ekaterina Pataradze. Ghlonti also used to serve as the Interior Minister of Georgia’s Adjara region.

Rustavi 2 says that according to Entrepreneurial Registry, Ghlonti is a co-owner of several businesses in Georgia.

Marine Narchemashvili, Head of the Press and Information Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, confirmed the fact, but she did not specify the names of the Georgian diplomat and her spouse.

“The person, who violated the law in Ukraine, is not the employee of Foreign Ministry, but his wife is and she has been already removed from her position,” Narchemashvili said.

Former Head of Ukraine’s National Police, Khatia Dekanoidze, says the tobacco smuggling is a serious problem in Ukraine.

“It is very sad that the spouse of a Georgian diplomat was detained with such charges. The Foreign Ministry should choose staff very carefully,” she added.

Foreign Affairs of Georgia says the Georgian diplomat's spouse was charged with the administrative penalty. The trial will be held in February. The detained is expected to receive administrative penalty.