Ukraine diplomats arrested trying to smuggle gold, cigarettes into Poland

KYIV (Reuters) - Ukrainian border guards have seized 16 kilograms of gold, tens of thousands of dollars and euros and thousands of packs of cigarettes from Ukrainian diplomats as they tried to smuggle them into neighbouring Poland, investigators said on Monday.

The smuggling was discovered on Sunday when the border guards stopped a mini-bus. A driver of the Ukrainian embassy in Warsaw and an attache for consular affairs were in the vehicle at the time, the state investigative bureau said in a statement.

The bureau said they had uncovered the activities of a criminal group that included current and former employees of the Ukrainian embassy in Poland and also a member of the state-run service for special communications and information protection.

“I immediately recalled both employees from a long-term business trip abroad. Their work at the embassy is over. The investigation will be thorough and swift,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Facebook.

Smuggling of cigarettes is one of the most widespread crimes in Ukrainian border regions, since the price of cigarettes in Ukraine is much lower than in neighbouring European countries.

Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Gareth Jones