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25.07.2014

Ongoing saga over bulletproof vests v. EU legislation

   

There is still no resolution in the absurd saga involving efforts by Polish volunteers to bring bulletproof vests and helmets to Ukraine to help save Ukrainian soldiers’ lives.  Quite the contrary since the Polish media reported on July 22 that a criminal case had now been initiated over the attempts.  The problem, as already reported, lies in the Polish prosecutor’s strict adherence to a quirk of EU legislation which fails to distinguish between a bulletproof vest, a helmet, tank, or machine gun, with all being treated as weapons

The Polish NGO Open Dialogue is hoping that the latest wave of publicity over the problem may help to break the impasse. 

The NGO has thus far brought 270 bulletproof vests to Ukraine.  Unfortunately they didn’t realize that they needed special permission from the Polish Interior Ministry and Ministry of the Economy.  This resulted in 42 vests being confiscated by border guards at the end of March, and the case passed to the prosecutor. Gear worth 10 thousand USD is now in storage until all the circumstances have been clarified.  The prosecutor was also investigating the transportation without a permit of 500 helmets and 10 vests.  

Gazeta Wyborcza reports Poland’s Defence Minister Tomasz Siemoniak as confirming that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has spoken with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk about the possibility of speeding up customs procedure.  Siemoniak himself said that the vests are not for killing people, but for self-defence and that there is no reason for them to be blocked.

As reported, individuals have already been active in helping to bypass the idiotic law.  Each person is allowed to carry one item across the border for their personal safety.  And this they’ve done.  A month ago people from Lviv and the oblast carried 694 helmets across the Polish-Ukrainian border, with each needing to be carried separately through the pedestrian border crossing.

All of this while the killing continues, as do inconclusive discussions by EU leaders of sanctions that could bite, and therefore prevent further bloodshed. 

(Halya Coynash)

Photo from http://www.portalprzemyski.pl/

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