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U.N. Starting Corruption Investigation of Troops

August 26, 1993

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) _ A team of military police will investigate corruption and black marketeering among U.N. peacekeeping troops in Bosnia.

Allegations of black market dealing in cigarettes and fuel have plagued U.N. troops, especially Ukrainians, for months. Last week, officials announced that two Ukrainian lieutenants were detained at a checkpoint with a large quantity of cigarettes, and that an investigation was under way.

Ukrainian soldiers have been posted around Sarajevo for more than a year, and in that time 13 have been sent home for involvement in the black market, U.N. spokesman Lt. Col. Tricia Purves said. All received the equivalent of a dishonorable discharge.

Purves told reporters Thursday that the U.N. investigation team, to be led by a senior French military policeman, will arrive soon.

The Associated Press reported in June that Ukrainian soldiers around Sarajevo had been running a black market in fuel and other supplies. Diesel cans on the market bore Ukrainian markings.

At the time, one Nigerian soldier was interviewed by the AP as he sold black market soap powder to a Croat woman at a U.N. canteen.

Smuggling is one of the main ways demands of this besieged city are met.

Goods brought into the city by traders who can circumvent the Serb siege are sold at astronomical prices. A liter of diesel fuel costs 15 German marks, the equivalent of $9. A liter of gasoline costs the equivalent of $18.

London’s Guardian newspaper quoted unidentified Sarajevo police officials Thursday as charging that peacekeepers were involved in smuggling at least 300 grams of heroin into the city in oranges in March. But it said they acknowledged they had no direct proof.

Purves said ″no one has come up with anything but rumor″ on heroin smuggling by peacekeepers.

U.N. officials insist they will crack down on any blackmarketeer dealing in Sarajevo.

″We will not put up with black marketeering,″ Purves said earlier. ″If we ever discover an UNPROFOR (U.N. Protection Force) civilian or soldier is making a fast buck off of the misery around him, action will be taken immediately to remove him,″ she said.

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