Archive for the ‘SWE’ Category

America conducts subversive activities in friendly territories

November 14, 2010 Comments off

The following commentary is reprinted with permission from Pravda, Moscow.

America conducts subversive activities in friendly territories
By Sergei Balmasov and Vadim Trukhachev
November 13, 2010

The United States found itself embroiled in a major spy scandal. As many as five countries caught the Americans illegally spying on their citizens.

Nobody would think it was strange if we were talking about the citizens of Russia, China, Iran, Syria and Venezuela. With these five countries, everything is clear: U.S. officials constantly refer to them as those presenting threats to the national security. But this time the U.S. was caught by quite friendly countries of Northern Europe – Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Finland and Sweden.

The scandal erupted earlier this month. On November 3, Norwegian television channel TV2 released a report which stated that over ten years, a group of Americans have been doing surveillance on 15 to 20 Norwegian subjects – mostly participants of various kinds of rallies. Potential terrorists and other undesirable persons were photographed, and the information was sent to Washington.

The report stated that the purpose of the surveillance was supposedly to prevent terrorist attacks against U.S. embassies. Nordic Governments were not informed of such actions.

The spokesman of the U.S. State Department, Philip Crowley, on November 11 said that the Norwegian authorities have been notified about a covert operation. “We are implementing the program throughout the world and are vigilant against people who can keep track of our embassies, as we understand that our diplomatic missions are a potential target,” he explained.

However, the Scandinavians were not satisfied with this comment. A representative of the American embassy was called to the Norwegian Foreign Ministry for an explanation, but no clear answers were provided. It turns out that the surveillance was conducted without the knowledge of the Norwegian authorities.

If it was limited to Norway, this episode could have been considered an isolated case. Yet, after the Norwegians, Denmark spoke about the surveillance of its citizens. Local newspaper Politiken wrote that all American embassies have groups of employees leading external surveillance of suspicious persons in order to address threats to the U.S. security. It has been suggested that Denmark was hardly an exception.

Former head of the Danish security service PET Jorgen Bonniksen said that he had never heard of such groups: “If this is true, then we have to deal with illegal intelligence operations in Denmark. On Danish territory such operations can be conducted by PET, and PET only,” he stressed.

The current head of PET, Jakob Scharf, made it clear: if illegal activity is determined, “of course, we will take action.” Justice Minister of Denmark Lars Barfoeda has been summoned for an explanation to the Folketing (parliament). The U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen, as well as in Oslo, provided no clear comments.

Followed by Norwegians and Danes, Swedes brought up the illegal activities of American agents. According to the Minister of Justice of Sweden Beatrice Ask, people connected with the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm have been spying on people on the Swedish territory since 2000. The Minister stated that it “is not yet known whether in this case Swedish law was violated.” She did not rule out that the objects of the surveillance actually might have been people who pose a threat to the U.S. security.

On his part, head of the local security police Anders Danielsson directly accused the U.S. of violating international norms. He said that the U.S. did not bother to inform the Swedish authorities of their intentions. “The Swedish security police (SÄPO) did not give the U.S. a permission to engage in activities that are contrary to Swedish law,” he said.

Representatives of the U.S. embassy were quick to say that “they have nothing to hide” and that they have notified the Swedish authorities about their actions. However, Sweden is the third country which had been “made aware.” Could the Scandinavian countries have entered into a conspiracy to defame the United States?

When we talk about three countries at once, it looks like a trend. Following its neighbors, Finland grew concerned as well. Local security police SUPO originally said it had not found anything illegal in the activities of the U.S. Embassy in Helsinki. However, they immediately proceeded to a more detailed verification. Apparently, the Finns also did not believe the assurances of the Americans.

Only the small Iceland with the population of 320 thousand with no army is lacking to complete the picture. On November 11 it was revealed that the islanders also have questions for the U.S. Local authorities immediately declared that they suspected members of the American Embassy in Reykjavik in espionage. The diplomatic mission is being verified.

This is a stunning picture. The U.S. did not even consider it necessary to inform its allies of its actions on their territory, as if they were colonies. In fact, Denmark, Iceland and Norway joined NATO and, consequently, they entered the circle of the closest allies of the U.S. Finland and Sweden are not members of the North Atlantic alliance, but are working with it very closely. That’s how Americans value their allies.

However, Washington seems to have confused Scandinavians with Poland, Lithuania and Romania. These countries have repeatedly been suspected of placing secret CIA prisons on their territories. The authorities of these states have been blindly following in the footsteps of American politics in the past two decades. This is not true about rich countries of Northern Europe. Given the national pride of the Scandinavians, they are unlikely to forgive the Americans the dismissive attitude.

Denmark is the only country that followed the U.S. without asking questions. Sweden and Finland harshly condemned the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Norway was among the first to withdraw its troops from Iraq, as well as (unlike Americans) has signed an agreement with Russia on the delimitation of the Arctic shelf. Even little Iceland allowed itself to contradict the States when it refused to extradite the late chess player Robert Fisher, who was facing a jail term at home.

The explanation of the incident with the need to combat terrorism, of course, can be taken into account. Radical Islamists are making themselves visible in Denmark and Sweden, as well as Norway and Finland. Yet, the United States could have informed the local security forces of their suspicions as these countries also have qualified staff. And as for surveillance of Icelanders – it is simply ridiculous. They have fewer than a hundred of Muslims, let alone Islamists.

The author of numerous books on the work of intelligence Alexander Kolpakidi commented on the behavior of the U.S. agents in the Nordic countries for

“There is nothing surprising here. U.S. intelligence services have always behaved that way around the globe. Virtually all countries of the world, including the members of European Union and NATO, have secret CIA tracking stations. This is not the first scandal of this kind. For example, several years ago, the Greek police found one of these stations having mistaken it for a terrorist base. When the attack began, “terrorists” opened a furious fire, killing a police officer.

Why is America conducting subversive activities in foreign territories, including, apparently friendly countries? This is because in an era of the global crisis, the U.S. changed its strategy. If before it had adhered to the concept of the “golden billion” according to which the good life was allowed to a limited group of countries, mainly Western countries, but now it has changed the strategy to the “golden million,” which implies that the good life is the exclusive privilege of the U.S. “.


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Pentagon’s New Global Military Partner: Sweden

August 25, 2010 Comments off

The following commentary is reprinted with permission from Rick Rozoff.

Pentagon’s New Global Military Partner: Sweden
©  Rick Rozoff
August 25, 2010

The longest war in U.S. history and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s first armed conflict outside Europe, as well as its first ground war, is nearing the beginning of its tenth year.

Over 120,000 troops are serving under NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan in addition to 30,000 under American command, and the Western military bloc recently confirmed that Malaysia has become the 47th official Troop Contributing Nation (TCN) for the war effort.

Never before have forces from so many nations served under a common command in one country, one war theater or one war.

All 28 full NATO member states have supplied soldiers for the campaign, as have over 20 Alliance partners in Europe, the South Caucasus, the South Pacific, Asia, Africa and South America. With the inclusion of contingents deployed and pledged by nations such as Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Colombia and Tonga as well as the 47 official troop contributors, there are military personnel from every populated continent assigned to the West’s war in Afghanistan.

European nations that have maintained neutrality since the end of World War Two and in some cases decades and centuries longer have provided NATO with troops for its International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Austria, Ireland and Switzerland have sent nominal contingents under Partnership for Peace (PfP) obligations. PfP member Finland has approximately 150 troops attached to NATO’s Afghan command and Sweden has 500. The Swedish consignment was until lately the second-largest of all non-NATO member states, only surpassed by Australia until over 750 more U.S. Marine Corps-trained Georgian troops arrived in the South Asian nation in April. (Last month Georgian leader Mikheil Saakashvili said that the 1,000 total troops he deployed were matriculated in the “school of Afghan warfare” for use in future conflicts like those of the five-day Georgian-Russian war of two years ago.)

The main function of the Partnership for Peace program – whose name is counterintuitive, Orwellian and blasphemous given the fact it has graduated 12 Eastern European nations into full membership in the world’s only military bloc and prepared them for deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq – is to integrate nations in Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia for NATO operations abroad. The major beneficiary of that process is the Pentagon.

Over twenty nations currently in that category are having their armed forces, military doctrines, weapons arsenals and foreign policy orientation transformed for interoperability with the Western alliance and in particular its leading member, the United States.

The PfP is training the armies of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Austria, Bosnia, Finland, Georgia, Ireland, Macedonia, Montenegro and Sweden for the war in Afghanistan and, complementarily, is employing the war there to provide the militaries of those states combat experience and to build a globally deployable force for future NATO operations, including ones nearer the respective nations’ borders.[1] Other components of the strategy include conducting ever more frequent and large-scale war games and other combat training in partnership nations with Afghanistan the immediate battlefield destination but with general applicability for other locations, and expanding the arsenals of PfP states with – NATO interoperable – unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), armored combat vehicles, artillery, attack helicopters, advanced warplanes and other engines of war.

Al Burke and his dedicated colleagues with the Stop the Furtive Accession to NATO initiative in Sweden are conducting a tireless campaign to sound the alarm over the surreptitious and accelerating drive to integrate the nation into NATO’s – and the Pentagon’s – global military sphere.[2]

For over a year Swedish troops in charge of ISAF operations in four northern Afghan provinces have been engaged in regular firefights, the first combat operations the nation has conducted in almost two hundred years. Two Swedish officers were killed in February, the first troops killed in an exchange of fire with Afghan rebels.

On July 1 the Swedish government ended 109 years of conscription and made the country’s armed force entirely voluntary; that is, Stockholm – to use the approved term – professionalized the military according to NATO standards and demands.

As a result, “All Swedish soldiers will in future be liable to be sent abroad on missions against their will. Any soldiers who refuse could lose their jobs…”[3]

The four unions representing the nation’s military personnel are all opposed to the compulsory overseas deployment provision.

As a press agency reported on the day of the announcement, “At the same time, it was decided to loosen the country’s traditionally strict neutrality to allow participation in more international military operations, like the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan.”[4]

Last year Sweden hosted the ten-day Loyal Arrow 2009 NATO military exercise in its north. The war games consisted in part of “the biggest air force drill ever in the Finnish-Swedish Bothnia Bay”[5] and included the participation of 2,000 troops from ten nations, 50 warplanes and a British aircraft carrier. An account of it stated, “The exercise is based upon a fictitious scenario. Within this scenario, elements of the NATO Response Force (NRF)… will be deployed to a theatre of operations.”[6] The allegedly fictitious situation in question was one which could well be applied in the Baltic nations of Estonia and Latvia, the South Caucasus, Transdniester and other locations where NATO forces and war machinery could come into direct contact with their Russian opposite numbers.

Late this May NATO’s top military commander made a tour of inspection to Sweden, commending its government for deploying and maintaining 500 troops in Afghanistan. American Admiral James Stavridis, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, visited the country on the invitation of the Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces, Sverker Goranson. He also consulted with the State Secretary to the Prime Minister, Gustav Lind, and the State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Frank Belfrage.[7]

A few days later several special representatives from “NATO Partner Nations Austria, Finland, Sweden and Switzerland,” among them Veronika Wand-Danielsson, ambassador of Sweden to NATO, met with French Air Force General Stephane Abrial, commander of Allied Command Transformation (ACT) at the latter’s headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia.

The European envoys “were also briefed by U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Lawrence Rice of U.S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) on that command’s mission and on the achievements and future of the ACT-USJFCOM cooperation.”[8]

NATO is and has always been designed to recruit nations into a military bloc so the Pentagon can integrate them into its own network as well. Where NATO advances, U.S. troops and bases follow, as with Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Poland where Washington has acquired air, training, interceptor missile and strategic airlift bases over the past five years.

In June Swedish troops were among 3,000 from 12 countries participating in the annual U.S.-led Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) NATO Partnership for Peace maneuvers, “the largest multinational naval exercise in the Baltic Sea,”[9] which included 500 U.S. Marines, 130 of whom stormed a beach in Estonia, the U.S. Marine Corps’ “first amphibious landing exercise in a territory that was once part of the Soviet Union,”[10] 90 miles from the Russian border.

At the same time United States Air Forces in Europe launched this year’s Unified Engagement “wargame designed to explore future joint warfare concepts and capabilities”[11] in Estonia. Last year’s version was conducted in Sweden.

The American delegation was led by the commander of United States Air Forces in Europe, General Roger Brady, and worked with “counterparts from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden to strengthen relationships, and improve interoperability and future cooperation.”[12]

The United States Air Forces in Europe website described the event as a “transformation war game to explore future combined warfighting concepts and capabilities.”

According to Brady, “Because of training seminars like Unified Engagement, the U.S. Air Force and our partners worldwide are better prepared for future operational challenges.”[13]

In mid-June it was announced that “Swedish armed forces operating in Afghanistan as part of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) will be equipped with their first tactical UAV capability since deploying into theatre…”

Shadow 200 unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) systems, “Already operated by the U.S. Army and Marine Corps in Afghanistan and Iraq,” will be deployed by the Swedish air force within months.[14]

During the same week the Finnish government announced it was presenting a proposal to the nation’s parliament to join the NATO Response Force, following up on a decision of three years ago to do so “as part of a joint decision and simultaneous membership with Sweden.”[15]

The U.S. led the annual NATO Partnership for Peace Sea Breeze multinational military exercises in Ukraine in the first half of July – in the Crimea, near the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet at Sevastopol – with Alliance members and partners Sweden, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Moldova, Poland and Ukraine.

In late July and early August the U.S. 555th Fighter Squadron with 250 airmen spent two weeks in Sweden conducting air-to-air and air-to-ground exercises with the host country’s air force during which “the U.S. Air Force worked side-by-side with their Swedish allies both in the skies and on the ground conducting more than 180 flying missions that tested their air combat capabilities as well as their precision weapons scoring…”

The deputy commander of the participating Swedish unit, Övlt (Lieutenant Colonel) Harri Larsson, stated on the occasion: “We really appreciate working with the U.S. Air Force because it gives us dimension… training with someone else, other equipment, other tactics, working in the English language, which is not our native language… I believe it gives us a lot of good experience which we can use in the future.”

He added that the air combat exercises were important for integrating the warfighting capabilities of his nation’s Gripen pilots with U.S. F-16 Fighting Falcon counterparts. “They can improve their training and we become more interoperable.”

Larsson also revealed the purpose behind the joint maneuvers: “Our government wants us to become more flexible and be able to, on a short notice, go abroad. (Therefore), we need to work with other countries, especially the U.S. (as) the U.S. is the biggest contributor to NATO and the UN. [F]rom our point of view it’s necessary to work with the U.S.”

As the American squadron returned to the Aviano Air Base in Italy, Övlt Larsson said “the F 21 Wing hopes to host its American allies again in the near future.”[16] The F 21 Wing, also known as the Norrbotten Air Force Wing, hosted the fifty NATO warplanes used in last year’s Loyal Arrow war games.

Last week the U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead arrived in Sweden to inspect some of the country’s warships and a submarine and meet with his counterpart Rear Admiral Anders Grenstad to “discuss present and future operations between the two navies in the region and around the globe.”[17]

Sweden’s top military commander, General Sverker Goranson, was at the Pentagon on August 5 to meet with Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Goranson had earlier studied at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and served as military attache in the United States.

With eleven years of NATO expansion and the Alliance’s transformation into the world’s first internationally-oriented military bloc, no nation in Europe is permitted to be neutral and none can avoid involvement in military missions, including wars, abroad. Sweden is no exception, having joined scores of other previously non-aligned nations around the world in being pulled into the Pentagon’s orbit in the post-Cold War period.

To illustrate how widely the network has expanded, on July 16 military officers from 63 nations enrolled at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College – Swedish military chief Goranson’s alma mater – visited state officials in Topeka, Kansas.

The officers were from Afghanistan, Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bosnia, Botswana, Britain, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mexico, Moldova, Morocco, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda and Ukraine.[18]

Related articles:

End of Scandinavian Neutrality: NATO’s Militarization Of Europe
Stop NATO, April 10, 2009

Scandinavia And The Baltic Sea: NATO’s War Plans For The High North
June 14, 2009

Afghan War: NATO Trains Finland, Sweden For Conflict With Russia
July 26, 2009

1) Afghan War: NATO Builds History’s First Global Army
Stop NATO, August 9, 2009

2) Stop the Furtive Accession to NATO!

3) The Local (Sweden), July 13, 2010
4) Agence France-Presse, July 1, 2010
5) Barents Observer, June 8, 2009
6) Allied Air Component Command HQ Ramstein, April 9, 2009
7) North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe
May 12, 2010

8) North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Allied Command Transformation
May 21, 2010

9) U.S. European Command, June 7, 2010
10) Associated Press, June 15, 2010
11) Russian Information Agency Novosti, June 7, 2010
12) United States Air Forces in Europe, June 8, 2010
13) Ibid
14) Shephard Group, June 16, 2010
15) Defense News, June 16, 2010
16) United States Air Forces in Europe, August 13, 2010
17) Navy NewsStand, August 24, 2010
18) The Capital-Journal, July 16, 2010


Rick Rozoff publishes the blog, Stop NATO.

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Categories: NATO, SWE, USA

Kyrgyz drug traffic threatens Russia’s security

May 8, 2010 Comments off

[Blogmaster note:  I have been unsuccessful in contacting the author (or anyone affiliated with the host website) so this material is being made available in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 and is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. Author attribution, copyright info and a link to the host website is intact.]

The following analysis is from Russia’s Strategic Culture Foundation.

Kyrgyz drug traffic threatens Russia’s security
©  Alexander Barentsev
Source:  Strategic Culture Foundation
May 8, 2010

A drug trafficking campaign is being conducted against Russia on a broad scale affecting all spheres of its political, social and economic life. Kyrgyzstan plays an important role in this campaign. There are ten main routes of heroin traffic from Afghanistan (occupied by the U.S. forces) with six of them crossing the Kyrgyz city of Osh, an important hub of Afghan drug traffic.

Here are these routes:

1.  Badakhshan (Afghanistan) – Gorno-Badakhshan (Tajikistan) – Osh (Kyrgyzstan) – Sumgait (Azerbaijan) (earlier the processing of morphine into heroin was carried out at a facility near the Azeri capital of Baku but with the development of drug production in Afghanistan the Azeri drug mafia switched to drug transit) – Bosnia – Croatia – Western Europe;

2.  Badakhshan – Gorno-Badakhshan – Osh, – Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan) – Samara (Russia) – Moscow (Russia) – Estonia – Sweden – the U.S.;

3.  Badakhshan – Gorno-Badakhshan – Osh, – Bishkek – Yekaterinburg (Russia) – Moscow – Estonia – Sweden – the U.S.;

4.  Badakhshan – Gorno-Badakhshan – Osh, – Bishkek – Nizhni Novgorod (Russia) – Moscow – Estonia – Sweden – the U.S.;

5.  Badakhshan – Gorno-Badakhshan – Osh, – Bishkek – Saransk (Russia) – Moscow – Estonia – Sweden – the U.S.;

6.  Badakhshan – Dushanbe – Bombory (Georgia) – Kobuleti, Ajaria (Georgia) (earlier the processing of morphine into heroin was carried out here but with the development of drug production in Afghanistan, Kobuleti was also turned into a transit center) – Turkey;

7.  Murghab (Tajikistan) – Gorno-Badakshan, – Osh – Bishkek – Ganja, Azerbaijan – Moscow – Šiauliai (Lithuania), – Europe;

8.  Mazar-i-Sharif (Afghanistan) – Termez (Uzbekistan) – Shali, (Chechen republic) – Nakhchivan (Azerbaijan) – Turkey;

9.  Mazar-i-Sharif – Termez – Samarkand (Uzbekistan) – Ganja – Dagestan – Shali – Moscow – Šiauliai;

10.  Mazar-i-Sharif – Termez – Samarkand – Ganja – Dagestan – Shali – the Republic of Karachay-Cherkessia (Russia) – Abkhazia – Romania.

As we can see – the main routes of heroin traffic to Russia, Europe and the U.S. are those that cross or originate in Tajikistan and/or Southern Kyrgyzstan.

These routes (from Tajikistan to Southern Kyrgyzstan) cover three main motor roads: Khujand – Osh, Khorog – Osh and Dzergital – Osh.- along these roads the Afghan heroin is transported further to Kazakhstan and Russia: For example, “Sogdian direction” covers motor roads from the Tajik Khujand to the Batken region of Kyrgyzstan and farther to Osh. Another direction, the “Batken direction”, covers mountain paths from Dzhergitalsky district of Tajikistan to the Batken region. Part of these routes passes through the territory of Uzbekistan. And practically all routes lead to the Osh region of Kyrgyzstan and from there drugs are shipped via the Jalal-Abad region to the North of Kyrgyzstan – to the Talas and Chui regions, and from there to Kazakhstan, Russia and Europe.

Besides, in summer drugs are shipped from Tajikistan to southern Kyrgyzstan down hundreds of hiking and horse paths in the mountains which are practically impossible to control.

As we can see, the Gorno-Badakhshan (Tajikistan) – Osh (Kyrgyzstan) section is the one that’s most frequently used in most routes.

Since 2008 the number of Kyrgyz citizens, detained on Russian territory for illegal sales of drugs has increased. In early 2009 alone, almost five tons of drugs were confiscated, including 480 kg of heroin and 2680 kg of hashish. The detainees were mainly Kyrgyz citizens and ethnic Kazakhs who carried Russian passports. According to the Deputy Director of the Agency for Drug Control of Kyrgyzstan Vitali Orozaliev, drug traffic via Kyrgyzstan is constantly growing and in 2009 it doubled on the previous year.

“Drug dealers have huge financial resources, – Orzaliev says, – and they receive detailed information from corrupt law enforcement agency officials about forthcoming operations against them.” The average salary of an anti-narcotic agency officer in Kyrgyzstan is $150, and if drug dealers offer them $50,000-100,000 for his cooperation, this deal will be hard to refuse”, Orzoliyev stresses. He adds that drug trafficking is a very profitable business. If in Afghanistan a kilo of heroin is available at $1,200-1,300, in Kyrgyzstan the price rises to $4,000-5,000 per kg, while in Russia it shoots up to $45,000 per kg.

“We are witnessing a merger of the drug business with law enforcement agencies”, – Erik Iriskulbekov, an expert with Kyrgyzstan’s NGO Adilet, says. Even if a criminal is caught in the act, they will not necessarily be brought to responsibility. Very often judges or medical experts rule such offenders to be mentally ill, so the latter escape punishment.

And now – attention, please!

On April 1, 2010, during a special operation in the city of Osh to detain a drug suspect, the agents of the Kyrgyz Interior Ministry confiscated more than 160 packages of Afghan hashish (about 107,8 kg) and 24.4 kg of heroin. That was a serious blow to the drug mafia, so a few days later, on the night of April 6th, the country saw a people’s uprising, and a coup. A government of national confidence seized power as a result, pledging Washington to retain the U.S. military base Manas in Kyrgyzstan.

Kyrgyzstan has long since been prominent on the geopolitical agenda of the United States and its allies.

According to the CIA, Kyrgyzstan is a small, poor country in the mountains with an emphasis on agriculture. Cotton, wool, meat are the main agricultural products and exports. But the country also has hydropower resources, deposits of gold and rare-earth metals; local deposits of coal, oil and gas, mercury, lead, zinc, bismuth, nephelite. The CIA points out in a report the circulation of illegal drugs in Kyrgyzstan, local opium poppy and hashish production mainly for the consumption within the country and in the CIS countries. The report also mentions that the government has launched a minor-scale programme to root out the drug crops; the use of Kyrgyzstan as a drug traffic transfer point to ship drugs to Russia and Western Europe from South West Asia.

According to the Western media, people’s anger on the night of April 6th of 2010 was sparked off by an increase in gas and water tariffs, arrests of the opposition leaders, corruption and the clan system, and general authoritarianism. But no mention was ever made of the drug business!

However, connivance at this criminal business costs Russia a pretty penny.

The borderline between Russia and China near Kyrgyz territory was established more than 100 years ago. For a number of reasons (inaccuracy in the description of the border, difficult high-altitude conditions, inadequate study of the area, etc.) there are several controversial areas between China and Kyrgyzstan, whose territorial identity was not established before 1996, when Kyrgyzstan and China signed an agreement on their state border. Meanwhile the Kyrgyz-Uzbek and Kyrgyz-Kazakh borders remain open. With the rules of the Customs Union coming into force and the increase of the custom duties these stretches of the Kyrgyz border will prove excellent loopholes for the drug business to use. The Kyrgyz government discussed this problem at its meeting in February 2010.

Although Kazakhstan has been part of the Customs Union with Russia since January 1st 2010, its borders with other countries remain poorly protected. Many border checkpoints lack elementary power supply, and no more than 12 officers perform their duties at the checkpoints, where a 100-strong customs force should be present under the existing customs regulations.

If we look at the map, we will see how firmly Kazakhstan grasps Russia’s South. The Afghan drugs cross the Kyrgyz-Kazakh border practically without hindrance. The question is: what will happen after the creation of the Customs Union of Russia and Kazakhstan?

Moscow told Astana to boost the protection of Kazakhstan’s southern borders if Kazakhstan wanted to join the Customs Union with Russia. Kazakhstan promised Russia to make progress in guarding its border with Kyrgyzstan, and allocated huge funds to tighten border security. But are the measures taken by Astana and Bishkek to protect Russia from the aggressive drug traffic from the U.S.-controlled Afghanistan effective enough? Our earlier negative experience gives us grounds to doubt it.

So far the borders in question have had gaps that are wide enough for tons, rather than grams, of drugs to be smuggled through. Cooperation of the drug lords of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia has ensured smooth passage of tens of tons of drugs from one country to another. While customs officers at Russian airports confiscated grams of drugs, tons were being channelled into Russia by land routes. A number of checkpoints on the Russian-Kazakh and Russian-Kyrgyz borders lack the required inspection equipment. Custom officers are unable to check large TIR trucks carrying huge freight containers. The drivers claim that the containers are being transported from the Kyrgyz warehouse sealed, and nobody has the right to open them before they reach their destination in Russia.

Now, who may be interested in maintaining the current state of affairs?