Drug dealers and Turkmenistan: what’s in common?

It is an open secret that Turkmenistan’s President Saparmurat Niyazov has been connected with the Talib regime; media, PRAVDA.Ru including, already informed about it. We also know, the Taliban government actively supported drug production and marketing. A rather simple slogan had been invented for this purpose: “Destruction to the satanic west!” In addition to the slogans obvious material purposes were pursued: money obtained in drug traffic were given to Talib’s top-leadership and spent on arms purchase.

Deutsche Welle, German broadcasting station published an interview with an anonymous Turkmen oppositionist. The man said, the airport of Ashkhabad (in the capital of Turkmenistan) is one of the key trans-shipment points for the illegal traffic, the leadership of Turkmenistan had authorized it. It is said in the interview, drugs were delivered to the airport in containers and further delivered to different destinations. In addition, the drug traffic was also carried out through the customs point of Imam-Nazar, near the town of Kerki. When Russian customs guards had discovered a batch of 2,5 tons of heroin at the customs point at the end of 1995, President Saparmurat Niyazov said it was interference in the internal affairs. Later on, the customs point was handed over to Turkmenistan.

A Deutsche Welle correspondent says, “President Niyazov is in secret relationship with the Arab emissaries, who made for his contacts with Oasama bin Laden, and also closely connected with the Talibs.” Mr.Niyazov opened Turkmenistan’s Consulate Offices in Afghanistan’s cities of Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif, but the Offices served a cover for the secret operations carried out by the Talibs and Niyazov’s regime, for development of drug traffic first of all. Great fortunes were made on it then.

In any case, the information is out of date as of now. Certainly, Ashkhabad has no close connections with the Talibs now, and not only because the regime itself has been thrown down. Some Taliban leaders, Mullah Omar including, are still at large, no information about them is available. It means, any contacts with the Taliban would be of no use at all.

At the same time drug production is prospering in Afghanistan. Hamid Karzai’s government says it is ready to struggle with the evil, but in fact is hardly able to do it, as it has lost the control over the situation in the country.

Former Soviet republics situated in Central Asia have become trans-shipment points for drug traffic. And the process can not be put an end to. To completely close the Afghanistan border much efforts and finance is to be spent. Russia and Central Asiatic republics can not afford it.

As we consider the accusations directed against the Turkmen leadership, we may guess it is a way for the opposition to gain some authority in the West. It is not ruled out, more sensational denunciations are coming soon. But to prove Niyazov’s connection with drug traffic, more substantial evidence is required, not only the words of the Turkmen oppositionist mentioned above. After all, the USA would not establish closer contacts with the Central Asiatic countries, Turkmenistan particularly, if their connection with drug traffic was proved.

At the same time, it does not mean that no problem exists. Some Central Asiatic top-officials very likely cover up drug dealers. It is necessary to find ways to discover and punish them. Under the present-day conditions very scanty efforts are taken for this very purpose. It means, Central Asia will remain one of the most convenient trans-shipment points for drug traffic for some time more.

Gennady Semenov PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Maria Gousseva

Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/03/21/38562.html

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