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Russia criticizes efforts to stem Afghan drugs

Russia criticizes efforts to stem Afghan drugs

Afghan drug production poses a threat to humanity and expensive efforts to fight it have not worked, Russia's drug czar said Tuesday.
The Russian government says about 2 million of its citizens are addicted to opium and heroin _ most of which comes from Afghanistan. It has repeatedly called on NATO forces to do more to stop Afghan production of opium, the raw ingredient used to make heroin. The U.S. and its NATO allies have funneled money into Afghanistan to stem production, yet poppy cultivation remained stable in 2010 and rising prices could cause a spike in the crop this year.
Viktor Ivanov, head of the Russian anti-narcotics agency, said a large amount of taxpayers' money is being spent to contain the Afghan drug problem but production remains "vast" and there is no steady declining trend.
This "makes one wonder and makes one think," he told reporters, while in Vienna for a U.N. narcotics meeting. "We believe that this poses a threat to humanity."
In its most recent annual Afghanistan Opium Survey, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime said about 304,000 acres (123,000 hectares) of the crop were planted in 2010 _ the same as in 2009. Opium production, meanwhile, dropped 48 percent to 3,600 metric tons, due largely to a disease that damaged poppy plants. Despite the drop, however, the average price of dry opium at harvest time was $169 per kilogram, up 164 percent from 2009, the report said.
Gil Kerlikowske, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, said he understood Ivanov's concerns.
"I think there's a lot of improvement but I would agree with him that a lot more will have to be done," said Kerlikowske who is heading to Russia after completing his Vienna visit for the same U.N. meeting. He added that more time was needed, as was the case with Colombia.
"It is a long haul but I appreciate his frustration and the frustration of the people of Russia," he said.


Updated : 2020-12-04 22:09 GMT+08:00