Show me the amberTatiana Urbanskaya
It's been three years since President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko gave the law enforcers two weeks to liquidate the scourge of the "cover-ups" of illegal amber mining. Over this period, both the SBU Security Service, the police, the National Guard, and the prosecutor's office have scrambled to fight with illegal fishing. Someone "fought" so much that he himself was burned in this fishery. And along emerged the cases of the notorious "amber prosecutors" and "amber deputies." And, judging by the scale of shady schemes and the number of top-notch officials involved, the victory in the war against the amber mafia still remains an unattainable dream.
But there have been some success stories though. It’s about confiscated semi-precious stones, of which the law enforcers report a few tons have accumulated in the "Homeland coffers." In particular, according to the data from the State Depository of Precious Metals and Precious Stones of Ukraine, in 2016 there was 1,185.63 kg of amber seized in the course of raids and other investigative operations and then transferred to the State Depository for "temporary storage." As of July 1, 2017, the amount grew to 3,366.99 kg. Can you even imagine this amber mountain?
Almost 3,5 tonnes of amber, which is being stored by the government, can in fact be very valuable if there are such high quality stones there
It is true, however, that there are 32 kinds of this fossilized resin. They are distinguished depending on the extraction site, quality, size, etc. While we are accustomed to measuring diamonds with carats, it’s fractions when we talk about amber. In the amber-rich regions, rumor has it that some prospectors somehow managed to exchange a few high fraction stones for either a brand-new SUV or a decent real estate property... In other words, almost 3,5 tonnes of amber, which is being stored by the government, can be very valuable if there are such high quality stones there.
But no one can really check whether this is the case. Any attempts to have a sneak peek at Ukraine’s riches are being halted at their roots. That is, any "show me the amber" queries are being ignored. At the same time, the authorities reports on the amount of amber seized. They can even provide a breakdown by regions. In some cases they can also name its approximate price, and, of course, boast the number of criminal cases that have reached court, and the number of court rulings in those cases (by the way, following court verdicts, the amber should be stripped of its "temporarily stored" status and be transferred to the State Fund, but so far there have been no such occasions.
The longer the responsible ministries ignore the "Show me Amber" requests, the sooner they are to become actual demands
Someone may think that the desire to have a brief look and maybe take a picture of the Ukrainian amber stored in the national coffers is some kind of whim. But this desire is by no means idle. The longer the responsible ministries ignore the "Show me Amber" requests, the sooner they are to become actual demands. After all, if we do not document the actual presence of millions-worth high-fraction stones in those huge piles of seized amber, no one can guarantee that in a year or two it will not turn out that all 3,5 tonnes are “worth a penny.”