|Russia and the CIS News Digest
Russian Duma: Act Now Against Afghanistan Dope
May 8 (EIRNS)The Russian State Duma called on NATO and the United Nations to take urgent measures against drug trafficking from Afghanistan, in a resolution passed May 6. It was adopted following presentation of a report by Victor Ivanov, head of the Russian Federal Narcotics Control Agency, on the "narco-tsunami" sweeping over Russia. Ivanov warned that Russia is now "the main target of heroin aggression," and that there is every reason to "call the flow of Afghan opiates the second edition of the opium wars," which were run by the British Empire against China.
Like Ivanov, Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov spoke in terms of "war, launched against us," in remarks having special poignancy in this week of the celebration of Victory Day, the May 9, 1945 defeat of the Nazis. Ivanov blasted current anti-drug efforts as "half-measures, which never in a hundred years will produce the needed results." While calling current international approaches flawed and "even counterproductive," Ivanov emphasized Russia's commitment to cooperation in attacking this "planetary" problem. The Duma resolution terms the narcotics plague "a common problem of the world community," and includes a call for interaction between NATO and the Collective Security (CSTO), which Russia belongs to, against Afghanistan dope.
Lyndon LaRouche said today that "the U.S. government should ally itself against the drug pushers, on this program with Russia. Such collaboration is not only correct, but also in the vital strategic interest of the United States."
Ivanov told the Duma: "Absolutely all of the heroin is coming to us from Afghanistan, our soft underbelly, which, thanks to transnational drug cartels, has turned into a drug plantation with an absolute global monopoly, producing over 94% of all the world's opiates. We are dealing with a phenomenon where Russia is the main target of the heroin aggression. Each year Russia loses up to 30,000 young lives to Afghan heroin."
Ivanov warned that the Afghan drug traffickers have built up a huge store of opium, a "future generation fund" for the drug trade. "Heroin stockpiles are now up to 2,000-3,000 tonsand this is in a country that is controlled by foreign troops under NATO command," he said. He is skeptical about triumphal reports of the UN and the Afghan government that opium growing has been stopped in northern Afghanistan. The Duma resolution likewise noted that, while most opium production is in southern Afghanistan, the allegedly more controlled northern region has many cannabis farms and underground drug-processing labs.
Ivanov said that some 180 Afghan drug cartels are trafficking heroin to Russia, most of them based in areas under U.S. and NATO control. Russian security agencies seized 1.5 tons of heroin and hashish from Afghanistan so far this year, almost twice as much as in the same period last year, but this is a small fraction of what gets smuggled. "The 1,500 packages seized since the start of the year translate into some 300 million dosesthat is to say, two doses per Russian citizen, including babies," he said.
Flare-up in Georgia on the Eve of NATO Maneuvers
May 5 (EIRNS)Maneuvers by NATO forces are scheduled for May 6 in Georgia, which last Summer invaded the autonomous region of South Ossetia and attacked Russian peacekeeping forces there. The George Soros/Lord Malloch-Brown-created Michael Saakashvili regime, which has been under heavy opposition pressure internally, claimed to have suppressed an uprising by military units at the Mukhrovani base outside the capital of Tbilisi. Saakashvili dubbed the incident a Russian-backed coup attempt. In an official statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that each accusation from Tbilisi is more "absurd" than the last. Armenia has pulled out of the NATO maneuvers. Russia has been protesting the impending maneuvers.
A separate incident, the expulsion of two Russian diplomats from NATO headquarters for alleged spying, and the retaliatory expulsion of two NATO representatives from Moscow, has led to the cancellation of Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's planned attendance at the NATO-Russia Council this month.
Diplomatic Efforts for Armenia-Azerbaijan Settlement
May. 8 (EIRNS)The United States and Turkey are moving to help Armenia and Azerbaijan resolve their conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan and Azeri President Ilham Aliyev met May 7 on the sidelines of the European Union's Eastern Partnership summit in Prague, where they discussed the principles of reaching a resolution of the conflict. They will meet again within a few weeks in St. Petersburg to continue the discussions.
The talks are being held in the context of the working group on Nagorno-Karabakh, comprising the United States, Russia, and France. It has existed for 15 years without progress, since this was not an issue with which the Bush Administration wanted to deal. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is interested in resolving the conflict, as is reflected in the fact that she met in Washington earlier this week with the foreign ministers of the two countries.
Commenting on his meeting with Clinton, Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov told journalists, as reported in Zaman, that "The Secretary of State unequivocally stated that the new Administration gives significant importance to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict," and that the United States "would work on the problem more seriously to reach progress soon."
Turkish President Abdullah Gul met both Presidents on the sidelines of the EU summit in Prague. Turkey wants to normalize its relations with Armenia, after having broken off relations in 1993 in solidarity with Azerbaijan during the warfare between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Zaman reports that Gul has suggested a four-way summit among Russia, Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan as one way of working toward resolving the conflict. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyipe Erdogan will bring up the question when he meets with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on May 16.
Velikhov: 'The Oligarchs Will Die Out Like the Dinosaurs'
May 5 (EIRNS)In an interview with Argumenty i Fakti, famed Russian physicist Yevgeni Velikhov issued a biting critique of the policy of the "oligarchs," and indirectly of the Putin-Medvedev administrations, for their failure to invest in Russia's science capabilities. Velikhov called for the creation of an internal market for Russian products, instead of trying to live off the diminishing proceeds of oil and gas export. "Casino capitalism has actually come to an end," Velikhov said. "The next question is how Russia will get out of the crisis. We should have placed emphasis on the internal market. The orientation toward the foreign markets should remain a thing of the past.... A second element, without which it's not possible to speak of development, is the creation of the means to encourage and facilitate innovative activities."
Velikhov pointed to what he considers four key technologies, the development of which would help Russia overcome the crisis: nanotechnologies, biotechnology, and information and cognitive technologies, i.e., so-called knowledge-based technologies. He recommended establishing several world-class scientific centers. "Under proper financing, these centers could also attract researchers from other countries," he said. He criticized pre-crisis policies, in which such financing, because of the influx of oil income, would have been more easily facilitated. "Unfortunately, we didn't make use of the chances we had. Because those who had money considered the source of the country's welfare not at all in its science, but in 'cash.' With regard to science, their attitude was, 'If we need it, we'll buy it.' The oligarchy is a special caste, and apparently they will soon die out like the dinosaurs."
Velikhov complained that the Academy of Sciences is deteriorating as a force for progress. "You know, it's possible to pull somebody off the tram and nominate them as an Academician. In fact, such things often occur. The Academy of Sciences has its own giant bureaucracy," Velikhov continued. "If you don't struggle against it, don't saturate it with independent minds, then by the second law of thermodynamics, it will lead to a complete deterioration of our science capabilities.... Bureaucracy destroys everything living, whether in government, in industrial corporations, or in science."