This year will be a watershed in combating the narcotics business in Russia

Posted in Russia | 06-May-04 | Author: Dmitry Udalov

With the Soviet Union’s collapse the barriers that separated Russia from narcotics penetration went down. Currently international organised crime groups are engaged in a narcotics aggression against the Russian Federation.

Viktor Cherkesov, , Director of the Federal Service for Control over Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, held on April 6 an enlarged board meeting of the service, which was attended by President Vladimir Putin.

According to Cherkesov, half of the drugs in Russia come from abroad and that proportion keeps on growing. In this context he stressed the need to broaden cooperation between secret services of various states, including CIS member-countries, to combat the drug threat. In particular, he proposed setting up a research and educational centre within the CIS to train special personnel and plan measures to counter illicit drug trafficking.

As an example of successful operations of the service, Cherkesov named the haul of two big shipments of heroin in Moscow and St Petersburg. "All in all, we seized more than 220 kilos of heroin with a street value of over 230 million roubles ($1 is equivalent to roughly 29 roubles). These are hundreds of thousands of narcotic doses that did not reach their consumers," he said.

According to Cherkesov, 2004 should mark a dividing line in operative search work to deal with the drug business. Without advanced information on drug-related crimes, it is impossible to achieve substantive results in the fight against them, the service head said.

"Unfortunately, there are now no well-developed legal mechanisms for seizing financial resources from the drug business," he complained. In this context, Cherkesov urged using the international experience of countering the laundering of illegal proceeds obtained in the course of narcotic trading.

"Proceeds from the drug business are often used to bribe staff of law enforcement bodies and bureaucrats. So a special role in the everyday work of the service is played by the internal security division." he remarked.

Russian law enforcers seize as little as 10% of the overall amount of illicit drugs circulating on the country's black market, Viktor Cherkesov said. "This is an approximate and a rather optimistic figure estimated on the basis of the overall number of drug abusers in the country," said Mr Cherkesov. The monthly amount of illicit drugs confiscated by the law enforcement agencies, including Mr Cherkesov's service, is equal to that in the 1990s. However, Mr Cherkesov warned that if these agencies failed to improve their performance, more than the current 1,000 drug-related criminal cases would be opened every week.

Mr Cherkesov said that his service was intent at dealing a major blow to drug traffickers. "We have spent enough effort fighting drug addicts. It is time to crush the drug mafia," emphasized Mr Cherkesov.

President Vladimir Putin, who attended the meeting, tasked the service with amending the situation. "The country expects impressive results from you," the president said in closing remarks.

The meeting was also attended by Russia's Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov, Security Council Secretary Igor Ivanov, Audit Chamber chairman Sergei Stepashin, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and Federal Security Service director Nikolai Patrushev.

Source of information: RIANOVOSTI