"The production of surplus cigarettes in Belarus is well-developed," Jonas Miskinis told members of the parliamentary Committee on Budget and Finance this week.

"I don't know how (Lithuania-Belarus) relations will develop, but this is a cross-border problem, because such quantities require certain steps at the political level as well," he added.

A total of 388 million illegal cigarettes were seized last year, of which around 93 percent came from Belarus, according to the official.

"This is a record high amount. Basically, it was large-scale smuggling," he said.

Small-scale smuggling declined last year due to the coronavirus pandemic and movement restrictions, Miskinis noted.

he Customs said last month they had seized 16.6 million packets of illegal cigarettes, worth almost 60 million euros in 2020, the largest amount in the service's history.

This is up from 8.2 million packets, of which 85 percent were made in Belarus, that were seized in 2019.

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