|Russia and the CIS News Digest
Victor Ivanov: Serious Measures Could End Afghan Dope Trade
Jan. 13 (EIRNS)Illegal drug production from Afghanistan must be declared a threat to international peace and security, Victor Ivanov, director of the Russian Federal Service for Drug Control, said today in Baku, capital of Azerbaijan. He and Azerbaijani National Security Minister Eldar Mahmudov presented a plan not only to eradicate opium, heroin, and hashish production and trafficking, but also to break up the huge drug cartels running the dope trade. "We propose declaring the phenomenal production of drugs, a threat to international peace and security, just as piracy in the Gulf of Aden was qualified. More than 1 million people have died of Afghan drugs over the past decade, and the fact that it is still not considered a threat to world security is inadequate. We call upon all countries to support a vote on this issue in the UN Security Council. The CSTO [Collective Security Treaty Organization] has made a decision to submit this proposal for the UN Security Council," Ivanov said at a news conference, as reported by Azerbaijani news services.
NATO reports that 123,000 hectares of land are planted with opium poppy, Ivanov said. He called for "nationalizing" these poppy fields, Voice of Russia reported. "We also propose making a list of landowners on whose lands opium is cultivated. Names of those people are unknown today, and farmers who sow and gather the opium, perform slave labor and receive only $60 a year for the whole family." Farmers could grow food, which would also reduce Afghanistan's total dependence upon imports from Pakistan. If the world takes these measures seriously, the problem might well be solved already by 2013, Ivanov said. Russia and Azerbaijan signed an agreement to fight drug trafficking. "The problem of our countries is that a phenomenal amount of drugs is produced in Afghanistan. For Azerbaijan, the biggest problem is cannabis, which is brought into the country via Iran. We intend to further intensify the cooperation with Iran in solving this problem," he said.
Yesterday, Ivanov announced that Russia had arrested 93 members of a major drug-trafficking group in the southern Ural republic of Bashkortostan. The 200-member gang not only imported drugs, but also ran money laundering, Ivanov noted: "The money received from illegal drug turnover was actively invested in legal business."
BP Eyes Arctic Through Russian Connection
Jan. 17 (EIRNS)BP (British Petroleum) and the Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft have announced a major asset swap and joint venture for the Arctic Ocean shelf. The deal comes despite BP's abysmal record, with last year's Gulf of Mexico spill and ongoing friction in its other large joint venture in Russia, TNK-BP. The swap involves Russian acquisition of a 5% stake in BP for $7.8 billion. A new Arctic Institute is to be established to bundle efforts for joint exploration of Arctic oil and gas resources in the Kara Sea, for which Rosneft already holds a concession from the Russian government.