“Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko authorizes lumber smuggling to EU countries” declared a July 23 headline in the pro-Kremlin internet site Ukraina.ru. Having vetoed a bill designed to protect Ukraine’s forests from logging, Poroshenko is supporting the illegal export of valuable lumber, Ukraina.ru claims. In a further distortion of reality, Ukraina.ru calls the veto a “smuggling permit” and alleges that Ukraine’s Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman vowed to save the country’s forests from Poroshenko.
Both claims are complete fakes. President Poroshenko did veto a bill on illegal lumber smuggling. However the bill was returned to parliament with proposals from the presidential office. The President’s press service explained that Poroshenko supports the bill in general, but the original version had loopholes that contradicted WTO rules and Ukraine’s Free Trade Agreement with the EU and created possibilities for lobbying schemes.
The vetoed bill banned the export of firewood for eight years. Firewood, which featured in the vetoed legislation, is not considered valuable lumber, explains Volodymyr Bondar, the deputy director the Ukraine’s State Forestry Agency and thus its export should not be criminalized.
In a Facebook post Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze pointed out that the President’s amendments are designed to stop the corrupt schemes in the wood export industry, from which many politicians benefit.
Prime Minister Groysman confirmed that Ukraine was cracking down on lumber smuggling. Posting on Facebook Groysman said all lumber businesses in the country would be reviewed and an audit would be conducted to determine the losses from the illegal export of commercial timber.
On July 25 Ukraine’s parliament began deliberations on the new law controlling illegal logging which now includes proposals from President Poroshenko.