Russia to reinforce its southern borders against drugs

Russia's first deputy Interior Minister Vladimir Vasilyev believes the effort to combat drug trafficking calls for the need to strengthen the country's southern borders.

In fact, the bulk of drugs - mostly opium and heroin - come to Russia from Afghanistan and other Central Asian republics, he told the lower house of the Russian parliament on Wednesday while speaking about the measures the government takes to combat drugs and create a "second security belt" on Russia's southern borders with Kazakhstan, Georgia and Azerbaijan.

Over the 9 months of 2002 alone, Russian border guards controlling the Afghan border registered 673 attempts to smuggle drugs across the border, with the batches of drugs sometimes weighing up to 60 kg at a time, he said.

In all since the beginning of 2002, law enforcers seized 76 tons of drugs (in 2001, the figure was at 69 tons). Every year, the police registers about 200,000 crimes involving drugs, added Vasilyev.

All that calls for the need to tighten control over the southern border, which reaches 7,500 km long, and create a so-called "second security belt" in areas adjacent to the state border.

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