Contraband cigarettes smuggled in coffins in Bulgaria

Updated 14 November 2012
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Contraband cigarettes smuggled in coffins in Bulgaria

SOFIA: Smugglers transported millions of contraband cigarettes around Bulgaria in coffins and even hired hearses to throw investigators off the scent, the country’s customs chief said on Tuesday. Head of the Bulgarian customs agency Vanyo Tanov told state BNT television the smugglers also disguised some vehicles as ambulances.
The announcement came after officials seized 25 million contraband cigarettes. Four shiny coffins and boxes labelled as containing broccoli were found along with the contraband at a depot in the capital Sofia, the agency said in a statement. The cigarettes were likely to have come from Dubai, it said, adding that it was the biggest contraband cigarette bust in Bulgaria in over eight years, with unpaid excise duties amounting to 3.5 million leva (1.8 million euros, $2.3 million).
Bulgaria has the most enthusiastic smokers in Europe after Greece, with 44 percent of its 7.4 million population lighting up regularly. Over the past two years, it has seen a steep rise in demand for contraband cigarettes following a tax hike on tobacco products in line with EU regulations.
A total 15 percent of cigarettes sold in Bulgaria are contraband, down from 30 percent in 2010 thanks to regular busts, according to the customs agency. Over 170 countries adopted on Monday in Seoul a global pact to combat the smuggling and counterfeiting of tobacco products, which accounts for 11 percent of the international tobacco market and costs governments an estimated $40 billion in lost tax revenue.


Chechen strongman makes Egypt’s Salah honorary citizen

Updated 23 June 2018
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Chechen strongman makes Egypt’s Salah honorary citizen

  • After his team crashed out of the World Cup, Egypt’s star player Mohamed Salah has won a consolation prize in the form of honorary citizenship of Chechnya
  • Kadyrov, supported by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, rules Chechnya with an iron fist, drawing constant condemnation from human rights groups

MOSCOW: After his team crashed out of the World Cup, Egypt’s star player Mohamed Salah has won a consolation prize in the form of honorary citizenship of Chechnya.
Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov wrote on Telegram that he had presented the Liverpool star with the honorary title while hosting a dinner for the Egypt team, whose World Cup training base is in the Chechen capital Grozny.
“Mohamed Salah is an honorary citizen of Chechnya! That’s right!” Kadyrov wrote late Friday.
“Tonight I signed a decree to grant the high honor to the great footballer who plays for Egypt and Liverpool.”
Kadyrov, supported by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, rules Chechnya with an iron fist, drawing constant condemnation from human rights groups.
He is known as an ardent football fan and in 2013 took to the public address system during a match involving Chechen team Akhmat (formerly Terek) to publicly insult the referee.
Salah has been photographed smiling and clasping hands with Kadyrov during the tournament.
Egypt crashed out of the World Cup after losing to Russia 3-1 on Tuesday, with Salah returning to action for the first time in three weeks following a shoulder injury but unable to save his team. The Egyptians play their final match against Saudi Arabia on Monday.
Kadyrov said that at “a gala dinner that I gave for the Egypt team I presented Mohamed Salah with a copy of my decree and a lapel badge. This is a well-deserved honor!“
The Chechen leader has previously presented French actor Gerard Depardieu with the same honorary title.
He also said that he was confident that Akhmat would play a friendly with the Egyptian national team in Grozny at some future date.
Kadyrov said Salah had praised the “wonderfully warm and good welcome” the team received in Grozny.