Russia must stop flood of Afghan heroin-UN

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DUSHANBE, Oct 5 (Reuters) The United Nations urged Russia and ex-Soviet Central Asia today to stem drug trafficking from Afghanistan to Europe and said the proceeds from a record opium crop were funding global terrorism.

This year Afghanistan produced some 8,000 tonnes of opium, equivalent to a record 1,000 tonnes of heroin, Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), told a summit of the post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

''This volume threatens not only to aggravate the health situation, especially with drug addiction and higher numbers of those infected with HIV,'' he said in Russian, addressing the 12-nation gathering in the Tajik capital Dushanbe.

''This record high volume of Afghan heroin will also trigger a rise in instability and terrorism.'' Drug money in Afghanistan, devastated by a decade of Soviet occupation and civil war, feeds both the Taliban insurgency and official corruption.

This in turn weakens the government's hold over large area of the country, making it easier to produce more opium.

Predominantly Muslim Central Asia -- Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan -- is worried by a rise of Taliban-style militant Islam.

''I urge all of you, particularly Russia as a standing member of the (UN) Security Council ... to put the names of key drug dealers on the list of those linked to al-Qaeda and the Taliban,'' Costa said. ''We must put an end to this impunity.'' Costa urged the CIS to join forces with regional neighbours China and Iran ''to plug the breaches in Central Asian borders''.

About 20 per cent of this year's Afghan heroin harvest -- 200 tonnes -- will head to Europe via Central Asia's often porous borders with Afghanistan and then across Russia, Costa said.

The price of this amount of heroin would skyrocket from 0 million in Afghanistan to billion when it finally reaches the streets of Moscow or London.

''Only four percent of this amount crossing Central Asia is intercepted,'' Costa said. ''So you can imagine the profits which terrorists rake in.'' By contrast, a quarter of all Latin American cocaine is seized, Costa said.

REUTERS PDT RAI2203

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