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17 May 2021

National Anti-Crisis Management

Letter to JTI regarding involvement with Tabak-invest

...We are writing to you regarding your licensing relationship with “Tabak-invest” in Belarus.

We feel obliged to inform you about the risks you expose your company to, if you do not terminate your licensing agreement with “Tabak-invest”.

Since 2016, Belarus officials have sealed off all public records on the tobacco industry. That is already a serious signal of potential governmental scams are happening. A report of Transcrime[1] states that the Belarusian tobacco industry is one of the most important hubs of the illicit tobacco trade in Eurasian continent.

Belarusian media blew a whistle for a long enough to draw attention to the obvious issue, that according to official figures cigarettes produced for consumption within Belarus doesn’t add up – there are 16 billion cigarettes per year made for internal consumption yet only 2.2 million Belarusians smoke[2]. A recent investigation from Europol[3] shows that the illicit trade of cigarettes from Belarus is a serious ongoing issue and needs to be addressed.

The revenue from illicitly-exported cigarettes under your brands can’t be estimated, but this money goes straight to the illegitimate government’s funds. That money is used to violently oppress peaceful protestors...