Afghan heroin 'threat to progress in Russia': Medvedev
The flood of heroin into Russia from war-torn Afghanistan is a key threat to the country's progress, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned Wednesday, unveiling a new anti-drug policy.
"Drug addiction is a serious threat to the development of our country, to the health of our nation," Medvedev said at an international forum against Afghan drug production in Moscow.
"To fight this threat we have prepared a new government anti-drug strategy until 2020."
Russia has voiced mounting alarm at the flow of drugs trafficked from Afghanistan through its porous southern borders with ex-Soviet Central Asia, slamming US and NATO policies in the war-torn region, which shy away from eradicating poppy fields.
Over 30,000 Russians died last year from abusing Afghan heroin, according to the federal drug control agency.
"Youths have been the main victims of the narco-threat," Medvedev said on Russian television.
"That the production of opiates has doubled in the last 10 years, speaks to the scale of the calamity. And, sadly, Afghanistan is the principal supplier of these opiates."
War-ravaged Afghanistan is the world's largest heroine producer -- its potential gross export of opium worth 2.8 billion dollars last year, according to the UN drugs agency.
The heroin is mostly smuggled through Russia and on to Europe, fueling the drug epidemic in Russia, where some 90 percent of heroin had Afghan origins, according to officials.
US President Barack Obama made a major policy shift in Afghanistan by ending a military drive to destroy poppies -- believing it alienated the poorest who lived off returns from the crop.
But Russia has been vehement in its charge that the policy must be reversed and Afghan poppy fields sprayed.
© 2010 AFP