“The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” What Lady? Why, Mother Russia, of course. And what is she protesting too much about? Drugs. Not that drugs isn’t a valid and important topic to discuss, because it is. I’m always willing and ready to discuss the topic of drugs. Russia, if you just skim the headlines, has a drug problem, as do most countries. However, Russia has found a way to blame that drug problem on the West. Can you believe that? If you’ve been following this blog closely, of course you can believe it. Russia has found a way to blame most everything on The West, and more specifically America. Their drug problem is no exception.
Heroin seems to be a particularly pernicious offending drug in Russia at the moment and has been for a while now. That heroin, as is the case with the heroin found on the streets and back alleys of Europe, is sourced from Afghanistan and makes its
way through, and into, Russia but increasingly in and not through. It’s big money. Illegal drugs always have been — big money, but illegal drugs have also been an effective way for the establishment to engage in dirty, off-the-books dealings with dirty, off-the-books money. Those lines these days between dirty, off-the-books and “legitimate” are increasingly blurred. There are no longer any clear lines of demarcation — if there ever were.
So, when Russia proclaims the following from The London Post in protest, an inquisitive, impartial, objective and critically-thinking individual will feel compelled to put this protesting proclamation to the test to see if it passes. Per the link:
Despite declaring war on drugs in Afghanistan, all efforts to disrupt the production of heroin have not helped to solve the problem in the slightest, with more drugs flowing out of the country every year. Earnings from the trade are clearly considered worth the risks. And Afghan heroin is spreading in all directions, and in particular – Russia.
Because the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) headed by the US remains the dominant power in Afghanistan for the second decade now, Russia has been repeatedly asking Washington to curb heroin production in the Afghan mountains, albeit with poor results.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin blamed the ISF for doing almost nothing to eradicate drug production in the occupied country. At the same time the US maintains that since 2002 it has spent $7 billion on fighting drug production in Afghanistan, and allocated $3 billion on agricultural programs trying to encourage Afghan nationals to grow other crops in place of the opium poppy.
The bolded statement from Putin is ironically rich as I’ll soon prove. But first, a little background about Russia’s drug epidemic — an epidemic that undermines the flowery population statistics PailiP and Adomanis like to broadcast without scratching the surface to see the rotting quality of life issues below and beneath. During the Soviet era, although there was drug use in the Soviet Union, for most of the era it wasn’t an issue, but that began to change as the Soviet Union began to disintegrate in the late seventies and eighties. The corrosive drug of choice (if it can be called a choice since drugs are pushed, not chosen) at that time, and still is to this day, was heroin. Of course, with the alleged collapse of the Soviet Union, heroin, which by then already had an unhealthy foothold in an increasingly hopeless and desperate society, flourished exponentially as the criminal black market that was increasingly the economy in the late Soviet Union era became the official economy post alleged collapse. It’s important to point this out, because understanding the history of heroin use in Russia dispels the nonsensical claims that The West is at fault. Claims like this from the current Russian drug Csar. Per the link:
Russian Drug Czar Blames Beatles for Nation’s Drug Problems
Following in the grand tradition of past government leaders, Russian drug czar Yevgeny Bryun is blaming people from other countries for his nation’s problems. In this case, the people being blamed are the members of The Beatles, the top-selling musical act of all-time, and their nation of origin is the UK. He claims their well-documented drug use in the 1960’s was the launching point for Russia’s current immersion in heroin, crack, crystal meth, and krokodil addiction.
The band, whose 1968 song “Back in the USSR” might as well have been titled “Banned in the USSR” (western music was outlawed for most of the country’s existence), never played live in the Soviet Union, though their music did manage to penetrate The Iron Curtain through the underground market. Presumably, it had little effect during the Cold War-era, communist heyday of the now defunct USSR, since drug addiction was a relatively minor issue until recent decades.
When part of the USSR, the Russian people were under the iron fist of a totalitarian government that tolerated mass consumption of tobacco and alcohol, but frowned upon drug abuse. Untold gallons of vodka were imbibed to help the Soviet people, Ruskies included, get through long cold winters, food shortages, communist oppression, and the insufferable nature of Soviet pop culture, whose primary focus was indoctrinating the nation’s miserable masses into believing they were the luckiest people on the face of the earth to be living in a communal paradise.
According to Louise Shelley, director of the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center at George Mason University, Russia has one of the worst drug problems of any nation, and one that has been rapidly deteriorating for more than three decades. Shelley says illicit drugs were rare in the Soviet Union before the Afghan War, launched in 1979 when the USSR was under the leadership of Leonid Brezhnev. After the war, opium made its way across the Soviet border.
The last Soviet troops pulled out of Afghanistan in 1989, during Mikhail Gorbachev’s reign, but the opium continued to flow unabated (Soviet bureaucracy proved as incompetent at keeping out bad influences as its American counterpart, despite the absolute power bestowed upon the communist state). By 1991, the Soviet empire collapsed, and a new era of openness and crony capitalism spawned even greater decadence and hedonism. The progenitors of this treachery have now been identified: John, Paul, George, and Ringo.
Said Bryun, “After The Beatles traveled to expand their consciousness in Indian ashrams, they brought the idea of changing one’s psychic state to the people.” He went on to say, “When business then realized it was possible to make money from this—goods associated with pleasure—that was when the growth in the demand for drugs started.” Thus, The Beatles and capitalism conspired to derail the collective Soviet/Russian psyche—from perpetually shitfaced to perpetually stoned in a single generation.
While there may be some truth to these statements, how this led to Russia’s current drug crisis remains unclear, especially given that its origins have been traced to a war that began nearly a decade after The Beatles broke up. The group’s music was banned in the USSR, and played no known role in the Soviets’ attempts to—well, whatever they were attempting to do in Afghanistan. Nor were the band members responsible for making opium a staple of the Afghan landscape.
Louise Shelley, director of the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center at George Mason University, agrees with me. “In the past, they’ve often criticized the United States, (claiming) that we haven’t done enough to stop the flow of drugs out of Afghanistan, because approximately a quarter of the drugs now exiting from Afghanistan go through Central Asia, on up to Russia. And then they go across Russia to the east and the west, creating drug addiction all across these routes.”
The band’s bassist, Paul McCartney, has been arrested numerous times for drug-related offenses, most famously in 1980 on the eve of a Japanese concert tour with his post-Beatles outfit, Wings. His legal problems in this arena were primarily related to his longtime marijuana habit, a habit he claims to have given up for good, telling Rolling Stone magazine in early 2012, “I smoked my share. When you’re bringing up a youngster, your sense of responsibility does kick in—if you’re lucky—at some point. enough’s enough – you just don’t seem to think it’s necessary.”
As the Russian population steadily declines, the mass extinction of a once mediocre but numerous and arrogant people seems all but inevitable, much like everything in life that eventually outlives its usefulness (book stores, Blockbuster, and Kid Rock come to mind). But the music of the perpetrators of Russian genocide will live on. “All you need is drugs….”
Recently, a traitorous coward over at Ian Welsh’s blog, in response to a statement I made about Snowden, told me I was, and I quote, “a fucking imbecile of the highest caliber.” If so, what are we to make of Yevgeny Bryun? If “a fucking imbecile of the highest caliber (wouldn’t lowest be more apt?)” is as stoopid as it gets, what characterization can we provide for Bryun and his off-the-charts beyond-the-pale assertion? It’s so outrageous it defies characterization. Just like the assertion “Russia Stands For Freedom.” What the hell is it with these outspoken Russians (redundant, I know)? This is typical of them. They’re goofy as all get out. It’s one bizarre statement after another, and yet the hard “Right” and hard “Left” in their criticism of The West and America embrace these nut jobs and their fruity illogic. Birds of feather is all I can figure. And by the way, that last paragraph from the quoted article is a real gem. I couldn’t have written it better myself. Great job, Greg L.
So, we see from that article that Russia’s heroin problem has its roots in the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan in the late seventies as I indicated earlier in this blog post. But how bad is it today? Well, it’s pretty damn bad. So, despite the fact that Russians are buying more diapers, cribs and toys for tots, they’re also buying more heroin and heroin substitutes, not to mention all manner of other drugs to include Putin’s favorite, cocaine. Here’s a damning article about Russia’s current drug epidemic. Juxtapose the imagery with the pageantry we recently witnessed from the May Day celebrations. Potemkin at its best. Per the linked article:
Special report: In Russia, a glut of heroin and denial
BY AMIE FERRIS-ROTMAN
In her one-room flat, as a small shelf of porcelain cats looks on and the smell of mold hangs in the air, Zoya pulls down the left shoulder of her black blouse and readies herself for her next hit.
A friend and ex-addict uses a lighter to heat a dark, pebble-like lump of Afghan heroin in a tiny glass jar, mixes it with filtered water and injects it into Zoya’s shoulder. The 44-year-old widow is a wreck: HIV-positive, overweight and diabetic. After 12 years of dealing and drug abuse, the veins in her forearms and feet are covered in bloody scabs and abscesses, too weak and sore to take fresh injections.
Crimson-dyed hair frames her bloated face, which is made up to match a hot pink manicure. As the syrupy brown mixture enters her system, Zoya’s eyes glass over and she ponders her fate and that of her country.
“There are a lot of us. What do they (the government) want to do? Kill us?” she says. “They want to gather us together and drown us? I worry for tomorrow’s generation.”
If Zoya is anything to go by, today’s Russians are hardly flourishing. Russia has one of the world’s biggest heroin problems, with up to three million addicts according to local non-governmental organizations. Twenty one percent of the 375 tons of heroin produced from Afghanistan’s opium fields now finds its way through central Asia into Russia, according the United Nations. (By contrast, China, with nine times more people, consumes just 13 percent.) The Russian government estimates its citizens bought $17 billion worth of street-traded heroin last year — about seven billion doses. The addiction kills at least 30,000 Russians a year, which is a third of the world’s total heroin-related deaths, adding to pressures on the country’s already shrinking population.
So grave is the problem that President Dmitry Medvedev last year branded heroin a threat to national security.
That’s one reason why last October, 21 years after the end of the decade-long Soviet war in Afghanistan, Russian troops joined forces with U.S. soldiers for a joint drug raid on four Afghan labs. The operation, which destroyed nearly a ton of heroin, was hailed a success and the Cold War foes said they would like to see more such operations in Afghanistan, which is responsible for 90 percent of the world’s heroin production.
At home, though, Russia has been far less active in tackling the problem. Critics go as far as to accuse Moscow of wilfully neglecting its citizens and thereby fuelling what the World Health Organization says is one of the fastest growing HIV/AIDS epidemics in the world.
Unlike most countries around the world, Russia refuses to finance harm reduction programs such as needle exchanges, or to legalize methadone. Over the past few months, Moscow has decided to discontinue the work of foreign donors and NGOs with heroin addicts. It even recently blamed foreign groups for worsening the country’s HIV epidemic.
Health experts and drug addicts alike point to official inaction as the real culprit. It’s as if Moscow has misinterpreted the old U.S. anti-drugs slogan “Just Say No” and turned its back on the crisis. “My government does nothing for me. I am no longer a person in this society,” says Zoya, who lives in Tver, a drab city of half a million just off the Moscow-St Petersburg highway, and whose husband, also an addict, died from AIDS several years ago.
Anya Sarang from the Andrey Rylkov Foundation for Health and Social Justice, a small UN-funded Russian organization set up in June 2009, says Russia is failing its people. “For the main groups prone to the disease — drug users, sex workers, migrants — there is absolutely nothing for them,” says Sarang.
THE PROUD BEAR
Russian officials have a long history of denying crises. From the Soviet government’s refusal to help during the famine of the 1920s to its delay in responding to the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident, responses from the top have often mixed disregard and cover-up. During last August’s heat wave, as peat fires and acrid smoke killed hundreds, officials kept silent on the wider health effects of the smoke for weeks.
One of the reasons for the rush to denial lies in the national psyche. Russia is a deeply patriotic country, with a long history of strong governments far removed from the everyday concerns of ordinary citizens. After the humiliating collapse of the Soviet Union 20 years ago and the calamity and poverty that followed, the strongman rule of Vladimir Putin (former president and current Prime Minister) has allowed the Russian bear to flex its muscles on the international stage again.
But while Moscow crows about hosting such high-profile sporting events as the Winter Olympics and soccer World Cup, it ignores daily reality, says health worker Sarang. “Russia is trying to preserve a certain political image, showing that everything is fine,” she says. “This has shown to be nothing more than a lie.”
Most Russians see the truth all around them. Zoya’s story is repeated so often across the country’s nine time zones that the reality is hard to ignore. Even the government estimates there are 1.8 million heroin users; activists and doctors put the number closer to 3 million, and in a study last June, the United Nations put it at 2.34 million or 1.64 percent of Russia’s population. That’s the world’s third highest heroin abuse rate in per capita terms after Afghanistan and Iran. In absolute numbers, the UN says, Russia is number one.
Heroin was virtually unheard-of during the Soviet era, but is now easy to buy in any city in the country. In Tver, a medium-sized city with relatively little industry and few job prospects for the young, the detritus of addiction — used syringes, needles — litters the streets. Deals are a regular sight on street corners.
Russia’s anti-drugs tsar, Viktor Ivanov, who heads the Federal Drug Control Service — a powerful government body given to U.S.-style rhetoric about the ‘War on Drugs’– blames the country’s porous Central Asian borders for the heroin hunger.
“Unfortunately, in 1991 we suddenly found ourselves without borders,” Ivanov told reporters in December, referring to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Ex-Soviet Tajikistan, which borders Afghanistan and is one of the world’s poorest countries, has long been a haven for drug smuggling out of Afghanistan, where the Tajiks have ethnic ties. From there the heroin flows through Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan and into Russia.
INTERTWINED WITH AIDS
The drug problem has now become an AIDS problem. Officially, Russia has 520,000 registered HIV-positive people. The UN and local NGOs say there are probably closer to a million, maybe even more. HIV/AIDS has spread rapidly over the past decade, especially among drug users who regularly share dirty needles. The government estimates around a third of all drug users in Russia are HIV-positive; and international and Russian health experts worry the disease is beginning to spread to the general population through heterosexual sex.
The biggest problem, say health experts, is the government’s refusal to address Russia’s drug addiction. The lack of official intervention is remarkable. There are currently just 70 needle exchange and distribution programs in Russia, reaching a mere 7 percent of heroin addicts according to the London-based International Harm Reduction Association (IHRA). In terms of needle exchanges, “Russia is not even scratching the surface,” says Rick Lines, executive director of the IHRA.
All the programs are run with foreign funding. Government support: nil. It’s not as if the government is powerless. In the one area of the HIV/AIDS epidemic where it is active — mother-to-child transmission — it has reduced transmission rates to almost zero.
HIGHWAY AIDS TEST
In the face of government inaction, grassroots groups have mushroomed across the country.
Outside Tver, Yuri Suring parks his beat-up black Toyota at a truck stop along the Moscow-Saint Petersburg highway every night. There, between 7 pm and 4 am, he surreptitiously doles out clean needles and condoms to prostitutes, many of whom work to support their drug addictions. “If I were not here, where would these girls go? Who would help them? No one,” Surin says as a trio of prostitutes in knee-high boots and bomber jackets approaches the car.
Surin’s organization, We And AIDS, consists of himself, a second outreach worker and a driver. The supplies he hands out every night and the kits he uses to test women come, he says, from sympathetic doctors and western groups who want to help.
On a cold night in November, 20-year-old prostitute Olga slips into Surin’s car for an AIDS test. Surin rubs a two-inch indicator on her gums and inserts it into a small plastic tray while Olga nervously smokes a cigarette and shakes her black-bobbed head from side to side in anger at her fate, her gold leaf-shaped earrings swaying.
After studying the result — negative — the prostitute flings the indicator out of the car window and then hops across the gravel into a truck cabin where customers — two large middle-aged truckers — are waiting.
The Health Ministry says it spent 10 billion roubles ($320.5 million) on HIV/AIDS testing and treatment — mostly antiretroviral drugs — in 2010. But activists and health experts say this amount compares badly with other countries in the G20 and sufferers are routinely ignored.
In a 2010 report, the World Health Organization said just a fifth of Russians who needed AIDS drugs were receiving them. South Africa, which has the biggest HIV-positive population in the world — and whose government until recently was criticised as being in denial on AIDS — gives AIDS drugs at almost twice that rate.
“Appeals, trials and public action — nothing works,” says Alexandra Volgina, head of The Candle Foundation for HIV-positive people, a non-governmental organisationorganization in Saint Petersburg.
When asked why so many sick Russians lack access to AIDS drugs, the health ministry’s spokesman responds: “The amount spent was deemed sufficient.”
Russians usually blame alcohol for their health problems. Official data shows the average Russian drinks 18 liters (38 pints) of pure alcohol every year, compared with 14 liters in France and eight in the United States.
Official campaigns against drinking have been pursued sporadically since Tsarist times, usually with little success. In September last year Russia banned night-time sales of heavy alcohol, following on from a proposal to double the minimum price of vodka over the next two years in an effort to curb drinking.
“They (the government) are nicer to alcoholics than they are to us,” says 32-year-old heroin addict and Tver resident Valera, whose scaly hands and face are covered in bright pink scabs from a decade of use. Like many drug addicts, Valera does not work and refuses to say how he funds his $300-a-day habit.
The Geneva-based International Aids Society Aids Society (IAS) warns that if Moscow continues to take no measures, the number of new HIV infections in Russia is likely to grow by 5-10 percent a year, pushing the problem to “an endemic level”, according to IAS president Elly Katabira: the rate will stay constant even without any additional infections from outside the country.
That would hit Russia’s already dwindling population — recently called a “demographic crisis” by President Medvedev. Heavy smoking, alcoholism, pollution, poverty, low birth rates in the years after the fall of Communism, as well as HIV/AIDS underpin UN projections that the population will shrink to 116 million by 2050 from 142 million now. Moscow — which now gives money to mothers bearing two or more children – targets a population of around 145 million by 2025, but concedes that it could fall to as low as 127 million by 2031.
DESPERATE FOR METHADONE
If one thing appals foreign health officials and activists more than anythappallsing else about Moscow’s response to its heroin problem, it’s the ban on methadone. The WHO regards methadone as essential in combating heroin dependence, but in Russia anyone caught using it or distributing it can face up to 20 years in prison — as harsh a sentence as that for heroin.
Called a replacement drug, methadone is taken by mouth — so reduces the risk of HIV infection by using shared needles — and is used around the world to treat opiate addiction. Russia is one of just three countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia to ban the drug, alongside Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, where heroin consumption is relatively low. China, which has over one million registered heroin addicts, with unofficial estimates running several times that, has more than 680 methadone sites.
Methadone is a potent synthetic opiate in its own right, but it can eliminate the agonizing withdrawal symptoms that addicts experience when they quit heroin. Its main advantages are that it has to come from a health-care source, in controlled doses and without needles. That gives addicts some chance, over months or sometimes years, to go clean for good.
In Tver, Yuri Ivanov, a doctor and the deputy head of the state-run Tver Regional Narcology Clinic, is dumbfounded by the ban. “Why do civil servants limit me from doing my work?” he asks in his dimly lit office in the crumbling grey clinic, which sits off an unpaved muddy lane in the center of the city. “All that they are trying to do is the opposite of what we need. It is hard for me to understand… The situation is going backward. When there is no real medicine, they go right back to drugs.”
Ivanov sometimes resorts to giving his patients tropicamide, a drug used by eye surgeons to dilate the pupils and which has a similar effect to heroin.
Addicts talk of their rare encounters with methadone users with a sense of wonder and even magic. “All of us know about this drug methadone and all of us want it. People come through who have done it and we can instantly see how much brighter and better they live,” says Tver addict Valera in jittery sentences, high after shooting up twice by midday, in an interview in the back of his tobacco-stained car.
But Moscow won’t be swayed. “The medicine has become more dangerous than the illness. It would be replacing one evil with another,” said the anti-drugs baron Ivanov. “And why on earth would we do that?” Gennady Onischenko, the country’s top doctor, repeatedly dismisses methadone as “still a narcotic”.
In a major government anti-drug strategy launched last June, there was no mention of substitution therapy, even though Moscow says it is now focused on reducing the demand for drugs. That means that Russia’s measly four federal and 77 regional rehabilitation centers will continue to treat addicts with psychotherapy, counseling or simple painkillers.
CHAINED TO BED FRAMES
The vacuum created by the lack of effective substitution therapies was highlighted in an incident last October in the Ural Mountains town of Nizhny Tagil. Anti-drugs activist Yegor Bychkov, 23, was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for kidnapping drug addicts. Bychkov said he had received permission from the addicts’ parents to forcibly take their sons and chain them to steel bed frames while they underwent a painful detox.
Anti-drugs chief Ivanov praised Bychkov, saying he had acted in good will; the head of the parliamentary health committee Olga Borzova said the state was to blame for his arrest as he had become desperate.
The Russian Orthodox Church also weighed in. Though its official stance is against sex education and it regards heroin use as a sin, it has set up its own rehabilitation centers which offer religious guidance. The Church also holds regular discussions with the UN over the HIV/AIDS crisis.
Unfortunately, those sorts of initiatives may be risky. Almost two years ago, the General Prosecutor’s Office was ordered by Russia’s Security Council to beef up prosecutorial measures against non-governmental organizations which advocate substitution therapy. Since then, activists distributing free needles have been detained on charges of aiding illegal drug use.
“Russian government officials consistently promote falsehoods about harm reduction, and deter those who speak in favor of them,” the IHRA’s Rick Lines says. “Speaking honestly about the vast body of evidence supporting the effectiveness of methadone is a dangerous thing to do (in Russia).”
That may be why relations between the UN’s Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria — which has been pushing for methadone legalization — and Russia’s health ministry ruptured at the end of last year. The Global Fund provides the most finance for HIV/AIDS prevention in Russia and granted $351 million to Russia for 2004-11. Now $16 million of that allocation remains, and is at risk of being cut this year.
Worse, say global health experts and local NGOs, is the health ministry’s decision to scrap the Global Fund’s needle distribution, HIV awareness and medication programs. “They proved ineffective and we shall not continue them after 2011,” said Alexander Vlasov, the ministry’s spokesman.
In October, the health ministry directly accused the Global Fund of making the HIV epidemic worse. “In the regions where these (Global Fund needle) programs were operating, the spread of HIV infection increased three-fold,” minister Tatyana Golikova told a narcology conference.
The Fund says it is keeping up a dialogue with the Health Ministry. But global health experts warn that the decision to end the Global Fund’s work in Russia will be catastrophic. “Russia will fall behind and lose the achievements made so far,” warned IAS president Katabira. “We will not be able to recover the situation.”
It’s obvious after reading this that it’s all The West’s fault, isn’t it? Those filthy Capitalist Pig Beatles and their filthy, subversive rock n roll music. Russia would be restored to its former glory, if one can call it that, of the 18th century book-ended by Peter the Great and Catherine the Great if not for the depravity and perversity of Western culture the Russians seem to ostensibly loathe but covet. Churchill was right. Don’t try to figure them out. It’s pointless. Just keep pointing out their many absurd contradictions. It’s enough to keep you in stitches for the remainder of your days, however numbered they may be.
The comments to that article are interesting, so I’ll highlight a couple. This first one is interesting because it employs the same tactic amspirnational employs when confronted with justified criticism of Putin’s Russia — deflecting the criticism by turning it into a criticism of The West and America. The criticism of The West and America may be true, but it doesn’t negate or overshadow the criticism of Putin’s Russia. As I’ve mentioned before in other blog posts, there are plenty of blogs, too numerous to recount, that are predominantly dedicated to criticism of The West and America. For me to follow suit would be superfluous. We don’t need any more superfluity in a world awash in it. Here’s the referenced comment:
It’s worth noting that before the Russians invaded Afg. heroin production was negligible after the US trained “freedom fighters” as Reagen called them heroin production began to rise. As the us presences in the region solidified opium prod. climbed even higher. Now that they (US) have established major airbases throughout the country Opium harvests are at the highest levels that nation have ever experienced. As production increases the price drops making it cheaper to buy then vodka.
If a clandestine operation needed a way to rise money without going through congress as Regan did selling cocaine in the 1980s to Americans that’s one way to do it. Maybe Vlad the Impaler II learned something from the “Great Communicator” as Regan was hilariously called by his press. “Just Say Blow” to thugs then sit back and count your money.
Remember that the Actor in Chief Regan declared April 16th to be National Afghanistan Day, “to commemorate the struggle of the Afgan people fighting for independence like the American militia during the Revolutionary War with Britain.” what a moronic hypocrite.
Maybe this year they should have a parade?
This commentator mentioned vodka. Not surprising, since he seems to have thrown back a few shots, or perhaps the whole bottle, before posting. That, or he’s Russian — or maybe both and as we know, that’s not a stretch. It’s too bad Q. Shtik won’t read this far down, because if he did he’d be like a kid in a toy, or candy, store with all those grammatical errors to correct. But, that’s what happens when you become increasingly addicted to brevity — you miss out on the joys of life as you chase your addiction deeper into the rabbit hole of no return. His loss. Tom continues to put the screws to him even though Q. Shtik’s long since retired. I call it Stockholm Syndrome.
I agree with this commentator in a general way, but once again, as I mentioned, he deflects to The West and America when Putin’s Russia is the topic. Yes, Vlad learned from the best of them, but Reagan had nothing to do with it besides being an All-American face to the ruse. Does the author of this comment really believe Ronnie had any idea or notion this scam, one of so many, was being run under his auspices? If so, this author’s as much a moron as Reagan.
Also, the author claims that as heroin production rises, the price drops. Well, yes, to a point — but no lower. That’s why drugs are kept illegal. That alleged illegal risk premium (a risk for the Small People but no risk for the Oligarchs) always ensures the price will not dip below an established minimum as it would in a legal and unmanipulated market. It’s one more reason so-called recreational drugs should be legalized. Without the exorbitant profits from exorbitant prices, the criminal organizations that produce and distribute the illegal product would no longer be able to fund the guns & muscle to protect their racket. They’d be forced to compete and that would require an intellect — something not part of their genetic code.
I respect the following comment and agree with it:
“It’s as if Moscow has misinterpreted the old U.S. anti-drugs slogan ‘Just Say No’ and turned its back on the crisis.”
Maybe you are right, but to me, Russia’s policy of not helping addicts sounds like a perfectly reasonable interpretation of Nancy Reagan’s overly simplistic slogan. What leads you to call it a misinterpretation?
It’s hard for me to see why a country would not want to offer drug treatment to addicts. Treatment has to be the least expensive way to deal with the problem. Law enforcement (interdiction and imprisonment) apparently does not work. As far as I know, the very expensive U.S. “war on drugs” has had no measurable long-term impact on rates of drug use.
Exactly. Russia is a harsher version of the hypocrisy of The West and America. Certainly The West and America don’t stand for freedom, so considering that, Russia MOST CERTAINLY doesn’t stand for freedom. The criminality of The West is sophisticated, multidimensional and highly nuanced, whereas the criminality of Putin’s Russia is crude, transparent and obvious. Putin’s ridiculously gaudy attempts to cover it up are likened to splashing eau de toilette on someone who’s never bathed their entire life to mask the stench. It only makes it worse.
Here’s an example from the The Moscow Times (note the ad for Russian prostitutes at the top) of how Putin’s Russia is a criminal state — and it’s just the tip of the iceberg. This is organized crime at the state level replete with nukes — and Putin and his fellow mafia members don’t even try to hide it. It’s brazen and in-your-face. Per the link:
Magnitsky Verdict Is In: Russia Is a Criminal State
On Thursday, almost four years after Sergei Magnitsky’s death in a Russian prison, Magnitsky was convicted of tax fraud by a Moscow court.
Back in 2008, after the Yukos show trial, corporate raiding with the help of corrupt police and courts had just become a new fact of Russian life at a time when the country’s new, seemingly liberal president, Dmitry Medvedev, was asking his countrymen to fight legal nihilism.
It so happened that at exactly this time my law partner, Sergei Magnitsky, discovered a staggering case of fraud.
In 2007, police officers raided Magnitsky’s and my law office. They took the corporate documents for three companies belonging to Hermitage Capital, the largest hedge fund operating in Russia. Shortly thereafter, the documents were used to put convicted criminals in control of the companies, and the $230 million in taxes the companies had paid while under Hermitage’s control were refunded in one day to accounts in a small Russian bank owned by a convicted criminal.
The tax officials who refunded the money then went on vacation with the bank owner and bought millions of dollars of property in Dubai. The police officer who had custody of the corporate documents went on vacation with the lawyer who made the refund possible. Nobody — not even the Russian government — contests these facts.
Back in 2008, Magnitsky was sure that if he exposed this fraud, the government would prosecute those behind it. Magnitsky didn’t know whether Medvedev’s declared war on corruption was genuine, but he believed there were at least some limits to the country’s lawlessness and criminality.
Magnitsky genuinely believed that if this huge fraud was exposed to the entire world, even the Kremlin would have to act against these crimes to preserve it’s credibility. It was unthinkable to Magnitsky that the government could be so corrupt and brazen that it could openly support and cover for its officials stealing from its own treasury.
Today, however, nobody believes there are any limits to the brazenness of the government. But this is largely Magnitsky’s contribution to our understanding.
For the four years since Magnitsky’s pretrial detention until his posthumous conviction last week, mind-blowing evidence of corruption and cruelty in the Magnitsky and Hermitage Capital cases were continuously coming to light. For much of that period, we thought the government would finally hit that magic point where it told it’s corrupt officials, “Sorry guys, the political damage of covering for you is just too high.” But that point never came.
First it was Magnitsky’s initial revelations that more than $230 million were stolen from the government. How could the Kremlin continue to allow this if everyone knew about it?
Then we exposed the staggering wealth of the police officers and tax officials whom Magnitsky implicated. Everyone was shocked just how rich these people were and how little they had done to conceal their wealth and criminality. An entire tax inspectorate buying apartments in Dubai from the same Swiss bank account six weeks after they approved a $230 million refund? This was all public information, and yet the government took no action whatsoever to investigate the crimes and prosecute those who were responsible.
Then, the cruel circumstances of Magnitsky’s death came to light. The Interior Ministry was telling everyone that he had a heart attack and that prison doctors tried heroically to revive him. Official documents uncovered by Medvedev’s human rights council told a different story. A man doubled-over in excruciating pain in need of emergency surgery was handcuffed to a cot and beaten by officers with rubber batons and left to die. Even the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper was shocked, running the headline “Documents Don’t Lie.” Moreover, state-controlled Channel One covered the story, and Medvedev seemed to acknowledge that something had gone awry. Once again, we hoped that perhaps the Kremlin would hit that point and say “Enough” But, unfortunately, we were very wrong.
With every revelation brought to light in the Magnitsky case, the Kremlin was forced to choose between the people or its corrupt officials.
Magnitsky’s posthumous trial and the in absentia conviction of his client, Hermitage Capital CEO Bill Browder, was intended to protect the officials and bring closure to the Kremlin’s Magnitsky problem. The tactic was as simple as it was crude and cynical: brand the whistleblowers criminals and then answer further questions about corrupt officials who got away with murder with the question, “Why are you listening to criminals?”
The trial itself was a farce. Neither Magnitsky’s family nor Browder even appointed a lawyer. Even Magnitsky’s court-appointed lawyer told the judge that the entire case was illegal.
So the verdict is in, but it’s not the verdict the Kremlin wanted. Although the court delivered the guilty verdict as ordered, that judgment doesn’t matter. It has no credibility with anyone. In early June, Interpol made this clear by flatly rejecting the Kremlin’s request to issue an arrest warrant for Browder. The agency understood that the Browder case was politically motivated and without merit.
The only judgment that matters was made by millions of people in Russia and abroad as they watched the Magnitsky case unfold. There are no longer any misconceptions about the Russian government. The huge army of corrupt officials are in it for themselves, and nothing restrains their crimes. Russian officials have no shame, they are willing to kill to keep what they have stolen, and they have the full backing of the Kremlin.
I want to quote and underscore a comment to that article because it pretty much says what I’ve been saying all along in this blog:
George Kennedy • 11 months ago
Well, what I find funny about the Magnistsky case is that it highlights just how ******* stupid Russians are. I know plenty of people here who zealously defend the regime and who howl that Western coverage of Magnitsky’s prosecution and murder is somehow unfair. And they really believe that it’s all part of some conspiracy against Mother Russia: sure, we support a government that steals and murders, but why do those reporters from the NY Times etc have to talk about it so much? Can’t they write that Russia is the best country in the world? Seriously, that’s the line I hear, and it makes me have even more contempt for this vicious, nasty and primitive culture.
Not just in Russia, George. It’s here in America too. Putin’s a rock star here — haven’t you heard? May you live in satirical times — and you, we, do. It’s as ubiquitous as the air we breath — and fresher than it too.
So, as we see, Russia is a criminal state. It’s not inconceivable. It was increasingly a criminal state with its burgeoning black economy prior to the alleged collapse of the Soviet state, so it stands to reason once the languishing official Soviet economy was abandoned, this very real and flourishing criminal economy would take its place — and it did. It’s taken a couple of decades to iron out the kinks, but now this criminal enterprise that is Putin’s Russia is running full-steam ahead on all cylinders and you’re paying for it with your official tax money by funding the poppy production program The West is engaged in Afghanistan and via the backdoor tax you pay at the pump for artificially high-priced oil. You are Putin’s mark. Do you feel special? If not, you should. He chose you over all else, because he knew you would not only be resigned to the idea, but further, you’d cheerlead your own exploitation. Good doggy. Fetch.
As with any criminal organization, drugs are a highly lucrative part of the business, especially when you mix and match it with arms sales as Russia, like the West, likes to do in Afghanistan right under the nose of the occupying West. Imagine that. How could that be? There’s really only one obvious explanation. I’ll explain later, if you haven’t already figured it out. This article from Talking Drugs helps explain how Putin’s criminal Russia enables and exploits Afghanistan heroin production. What’s noteworthy about this source is its use of WikiLeaks as an indictment of Russia versus The West for a change. Something that pisses off Russia’s cyber provocateurs to no end, no doubt. And I do so love to piss them off every chance I get. Here’s what the author, a_constantinou, has to say:
The leaking of US embassy cables by the website WikiLeaks last year proved to be one of the most astonishing stories in recent memory. The murky world of international diplomacy was revealed to all, as readers were granted access to the private communications of embassy staff. Many of these cables, which were never meant for public eyes, illustrated the real opinions of diplomats and proved to be an embarrassment for the US. Nevertheless some striking points of view were revealed, one of which was the description of Russia as a ‘Mafia State.’ In the cable, the Spanish National Court Prosecutor Jose “Pepe” Grinda Gonzalez stated that:
‘he considers Belarus, Chechnya and Russia to be virtual “mafia states” and said that Ukraine is going to be one. For each of those countries, he alleged, one cannot differentiate between the activities of the government and OC [organised crime] groups.’ (WikiLeaks – Mafia State)
Grinda further alleges that the Russian military and security services control much of the activity of organised crime groups and ‘alleged that there are proven ties between the Russian political parties, organized crime and arms trafficking.’ (WikiLeaks – Mafia State) There appears to be a great deal of evidence surrounding these claims with many documented cases involving corruption and money laundering within the political and military elite. Unsurprisingly then, it seems necessary to question whether there is in fact state participation in the area of drug smuggling.
Whilst this might seem an outlandish claim, the idea is not actually that farfetched. There is ample evidence of other states being involved in international drug smuggling, in particular North Korea (methamphetamine) and Myanmar (heroin). In both cases there is evidence of not only participation but also the sanctioning of this activity. We should therefore not dismiss these claims right off the bat, as these difficult questions need to be asked.
In order to understand how a state could possibly be involved in the drugs trade we need to look at Russia’s unique past. Russia has a long history of collusion between state and various criminal organisations, stretching back to the early years of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Gulag has often been seen as the birthplace of the modern criminal class. Criminals lived according to ‘vory v zakone’ (thieves law) which dictated what they could and could not do. Much crime encompassed both outright illegal acts as well as the misuse of state property, such as providing goods and services outside of official channels. Many in the Communist Party elite, who abused their positions of power, developed ties with these groups in order to gain rare consumer goods. They also provided protection to criminals and gave their activities a veil of legitimacy. The profits from crime were therefore passed upwards within the system and benefited many who were not directly involved in criminal activity. In fact according to certain academics, in the Soviet Union: ‘The giant state apparatus thus not only allowed criminal activity, but encouraged, facilitated, and protected it, because the apparatus itself benefited from crime.’ (The Threat of Russian Organized Crime, James O. Finckenauer and Yuri A.Voronin, p.6)
The modern Russian Mafia is believed to have first appeared towards the end of the 1960s and became thoroughly intertwined with the Russian state. In fact the highest members of these organisations often held some of the most senior positions within the state. Stephen Handelman, in his study of organised crime in Russia, has noted how this collusion of state and criminal activities was fostered by the pervasive corruption of the Brezhnev Era. A time in which many high officials, seeking their own personal enrichment, would quite happily exhort money from criminals. (Handelman, Comrade Criminal: Russia’s New Mafiya, 5)
The collapse of the Soviet Union led only to further corruption and criminality as both state and criminal actors sought to maximise their opportunities in the new era. Towards the end of the Gorbachev era, when certain aspects of enterprise were legalised, it was often those from criminal backgrounds who were best positioned to take advantage of the climate. They often received help from those within the Party, who held important connections. Many were able to obtain valuable state assets and resources, and effectively extended their power and influence into the legal realm. Thus Russia’s new capitalist class was often inextricably linked to both the communist state and the criminal underclass.
The 1990s proved to be a period of often complete lawlessness in Russia, with gangs often engaging in open warfare with both other criminals and state agencies. In fact, this was a period in which many state security agencies were often co-opted and used for criminal purposes. It is this aspect of criminality which may be most obviously linked to the illegal drug trade.
In the immediate era after the collapse of the Soviet Union many state financed organisations faced a huge loss in subsidies. Along with industry and agriculture, the military was one of the areas most heavily hit by the government’s cut backs. Some commentators have noted that in some cases, military bases had their power supplies cut off and soldiers had their rations restricted because the Central Defence Ministry had failed to pay the bills! (The Criminalisation of Russian State Security, Mark Galeotti, p.474) This led to what many saw as a period of ‘uncontrolled entrepreneurialism’ within the armed forces, almost all of which was, to a certain degree, criminal. The army, in order to ensure its own survival, became geared towards profit with soldiers and officers often providing goods and services for criminal gangs. A particularly worrying trend was the growing trade in weapons, which were often sold to Chechen and other separatist forces. In fact, it was rumoured that a Russian military helicopter was sold to the Columbian Cali Cartel! (Ibid, p.481)
It is no surprise then, given this atmosphere and the Russian State’s historic links to the criminal world, that many stories surfaced of the Russian military’s involvement in the smuggling and, in certain circumstances, the manufacture of illegal drugs. In the 1990s, it was found that Border Troop aircraft and land transport were used to ship drugs from Central Asia, as part of a contract with criminal gangs. At the time, Russian troops had a large presence in Tajikistan, a country which is a key hub in opium trafficking from Afghanistan, and this did much to promote and exacerbate the situation. Perhaps more striking was the fact that in 1998, it was found that chemical weapons bases in St. Petersburg were being used to manufacture synthetic drugs for export to the West! (Ibid, p.475-476) What is also remarkable is the fact that Russian Military facilities and transports were often exempted from police and other controls, allowing most aircraft and military bases to be kept hidden from prying eyes. This situation only encouraged the illegal trade and led to many facilities becoming essentially ‘safe havens’ for criminal gangs and their contraband. In fact, one study has noted that, in certain circumstances, the military were often working for themselves in these operations, rather than for criminal gangs. Yuriy Spirin observed in his study of the heroin trade how Tajik soldiers often swapped their weapons with Afghan warlords for heroin, which was then sold to Russian officers. They then used their own aircraft, which were not subject to either Russian or Tajik customs controls, to move the heroin into Russia for sale to civilian criminal gangs. (Yuriy Spirin, Heroin Heroes)
It therefore seems evident that there is a definite criminal element within the Russian Army. The question remains though as to how widespread this phenomenon is. Are these actions merely the work of individual officers and regiments or does this represent a far wider corruption within the establishment? According to Main Military Prosecutor General Savenkov, the problem lies with the officer’s corps, with approximately 46.9% of crimes committed by senior commanders. (The Criminalisation of Russian, p.475) A leaked General Staff report on corruption within the Defence Ministry named many senior figures including former Defence Minister Pavel Grachev and his predecessor, three deputy defence ministers and 22 generals. (Ibid p.475) It would seem therefore that the rot within the institution is fairly widespread.
As for drug smuggling, widespread corruption also seems to be the norm. In 2000, Russian military intelligence officer Anton Surikov spoke out about the involvement of the Russian military in the drugs trade. According to him, a substantial proportion of the drugs produced in Afghanistan had been directly shipped from Dushanbe on Russian military aircraft. Tajiks would smuggle the drugs into Tajikistan with the complicity of Russian border guards. The drugs were then put aboard Russian aircraft and flown to Russia. The most shocking aspect of Surikov’s charge was that he estimated the involvement of between 50 to 100 senior officers. This seems to have been confirmed by ‘Moscow News’ correspondent Sanobar Shermatova who said she had met with officers who had confirmed the existence of this trade. Shermatova even stated that the Russian High Command knew of the situation but did nothing to stop these officers, perhaps hinting at involvement at even higher levels. (Charges Link Russian Military to Drug Trade, Radio Free Europe, 2000)
Although these reports are shocking we should avoid making wild accusations of government involvement as this situation does seem to be markedly different from say North Korea, in which we can point to direct state involvement in drug production. Nevertheless these reports do seem to suggest fairly widespread involvement of state and military personnel. It may not be actively sanctioned at the top, but there does seem to be a culture of turning a blind eye; as long as everybody gets paid, few questions are asked. People may say that Russia is a very different place now as compared to the lawless 1990s and this is true in certain respects. Russia is no longer the ‘Wild West’ and gangs very rarely openly fight for influence and power. Yet there has been little overall reduction in crime and corruption, as those groups who fought each other in the 90s are now the ones in power and have institutionalised their influence. We need only observe the fact that in 2011, Russia was ranked 143rd in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, a rank also obtained by Nigeria. It should come as no surprise then when we hear Russia accused of being a ‘mafia state’.
At the beginning of this report, the question of whether the Russian state could be involved in drugs smuggling was posed. After looking at the Russian State’s historical involvement with organised crime as well as evidence of participation in smuggling and manufacturing, this idea may not seem so outlandish. We will of course never know the extent of official involvement and it would be pointless to make wild accusations. Nevertheless there does seem to be aspects of state participation with many senior figures directly benefitting from this trade.
This issue poses a huge problem for Russia, a country with the worst heroin problem in recent history. It is estimated that the country has approximately 2 million heroin addicts and this figure is growing every day. What is perhaps most disgusting, is the fact that Russia officially pursues a harsh prohibitionist stance with very few harm reduction facilities. In fact there are just 69 needle exchange programmes in the entire country. What makes this even worse is the fact that 66% of all new HIV infections are spread by injecting drug users.
With addiction rates through the roof and users switching to more and more dangerous substances, such as Krokodil, in order to fund their habits, the fact that certain sections within the elite may be benefiting from the trade raises a few questions. When so little effort is put into preventing and dealing with addiction, one has to ask whether certain sections of the elite, who are directly benefiting from this trade, see this situation as beneficial. After all, their profits must be through the roof. These questions need to be asked and politicians and other officials need to come clean over where they get their money.
It recently came to light that Vladimir Putin had amassed over $40 billion (£20 billion) during his time in office. The circumstances surrounding the acquisition of this money are shrouded in mystery as much of it has been hidden in bank accounts in Switzerland and Lichtenstein (Guardian, Putin, the Kremlin power struggle and the $40bn fortune, 21st December 2007). We will probably never know how this fortune was acquired, nevertheless, when we take into account the above evidence, maybe it would not be so outrageous to suggest that some of it may have come from dealing drugs.
This article is spot-on and as damning as it gets. The whole case is laid out right here. It’s not surprising if you’ve been following along. In fact, if you’ve been following closely, it’s the natural and organic conclusion. Putin, besides being a murderous, cold, calculating, torturing kleptomaniac is also a glorified drug dealer with nukes. Don’t believe me? Ask the Germans and the Columbians, they’ll tell you. Well, some of them will. Of course, it was cocaine and not heroin, but no doubt Putin’s up to speed on the heroin trade by now, and any how, it’s all part of the same soiled, criminal cloth. Here’s an article from the Kennan Institute that sheds light on Putin’s criminal nature and his Cali Cartel connection. He was mafia don in training (underboss) as deputy mayor of St. Petersburg, apparently. Per the linked article:
Has Vladimir Putin Always Been Corrupt? And Does it Matter?
Putin was “The person to know in St. Petersburg,” according to Karen Dawisha, Walter E. Havighurst Professor of Political Science and Director, Havighurst Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies, Miami Universtiy, Oxford, Ohio, and Public Policy Scholar, Woodrow Wilson Center, at a 16 April 2012 Kennan Institute discussion. In May 1990, Vladimir Putin became an advisor to St. Petersburg mayor Anatoly Sobchak, and then deputy mayor and head of the Committee for Foreign Economic Relations (CFER). The function of the committee was to encourage, regulate, and license the establishment of foreign trade in and by St. Petersburg. Officials in Moscow granted Putin the authorization to issue licenses and contracts to conduct foreign trade.
During the early 1990’s, billions of dollars flowed overseas from Russia. These funds came from a variety of sources, Dawisha contended, including CPSU and KGB accounts, organized crime, and receipts of sale for Russian goods bought low in the domestic market and sold high on the foreign market. President Yeltsin and Prime Minister Gaidar hired the American private investigation firm, Kroll Associates, to track and repatriate money illegally held or taken abroad by former Communist Party and Soviet government agencies, including the KGB. They were looking for close to 50 billion dollars in untaxed revenue. Kroll uncovered hundreds of offshore bank accounts set up by former Soviet officials. As a result of Kroll’s findings, the Russian government passed a law giving it the right to confiscate funds illegally taken abroad (for more, see Bohlen, New York Times, March 3, 1992).
If money left Russia legally, however, the government could not confiscate it. In order to legally transfer money and export goods abroad, businessmen in St. Petersburg needed licenses. Deputy Mayor Putin signed thousands of licenses and contracts, legalizing a vast array of exports and transfers. An investigation into his activities by the St. Petersburg city council concluded that Putin had signed contracts before being officially authorized to do so, and at terms that included the payment of substantial commissions of between 25-50 percent to CFER for each contract and license he endorsed (the Legislative Report can be viewed at http://anticompromat.org/putin/salie92.html).
Not only was the legislature concerned about the terms of the contracts, they also cited many instances of non-fulfillment. Citizens were suffering from shortages, especially food. Contracts had been issued for raw materials to go abroad in exchange for food but the contracted supplies were not arriving or arriving in incomplete shipments. A parliamentary investigation, the Sal’ye Commission, was convened to investigate the shortages and state contracts. The Sal’ye commission requested that Putin produce the contracts and licenses he authorized. Putin refused to cooperate and after being subpoenaed he released only 12 of the thousands of contracts he signed, said Dawisha.
The Sal’ye commission investigation of Putin found that there were no or negligible penalties levied against businesses that breached agreements; businesses receiving contracts held close ties to officials in the mayor’s office; most of the contracts were improperly prepared and could not stand up in a court of law; huge commissions were authorized on contracts; and firms vanished shortly after contract payments were made. Hundreds of pages of documents were recently published, on Marina Sal’ye facebook page, days after her death. Yet Putin never suffered any legal consequences for the details uncovered by the Salye Commission, despite the fact that the St. Petersburg legislature’s report called for his firing, Dawisha observed.
Putin was also implicated in a criminal investigation by German authorities in the early 2000s into the St. Petersburg Real Estate Holding Company, called SPAG. The Germans charged that SPAG had been used to launder money out of, and into, St. Petersburg from a variety of sources, including the Cali cartel. Putin was a member of the SPAG advisory board and his name on the masthead attracted Western investors to St. Petersburg. Dawisha asserted that Putin provided protection for his co-conspirators when contracts were not fulfilled, and though legal actions were taken against SPAG, none of the Russian participants were indicted (see Duparc, Le Monde, May 26, 2000 and Belton, Moscow Times, May 19, 2003).
The two cases that had produced criminal investigations (#114128, in which his role in providing a fuel monopoly to the St. Petersburg Fuel Company—a company with alleged ties to the Tambov crime family; and #18/95-238278, in which he was alleged to have used funds from the Mayor’s contingency fund for acquisition of personal property) against Putin were delayed for years and ultimately dropped. “By the time the case was to be tried,” Dawisha said, “Putin was able to claim presidential immunity.” Of the many citations now available for documenting these and other instances of Putin’s corruption, Dawisha cited Nikitinsky, Novaya gazeta, March 23, 2000; Sal’ye, Novaya gazeta, March 22, 2012; and Mukhin, http://www.zaks.ru/news/archive/view/83713.
The author asks in the title, “does it matter?” Well, Thea, to some, many even, it doesn’t. They love Putin all the same. And really, what’s not to love? Especially if you’re an oligarch. If you are (I’m not if you haven’t already guessed), Putin’s your man — he’s a provider who exudes strength, smarts and power. He’ll let you grift Russia, its people and its resources, for a handsome fee of course. Business the old-fashioned way — you steal it.
And what’s beautifully efficient about Putin’s criminal enterprise that is Russia is the recycling of formerly exploited people and groups of people into productive, and further exploited, disposable assets for the criminal enterprise. Former soldiers who fought in the Soviet Afghan war and occupation come to mind, not to mention the ruthless Chechen rebels. This article explains how the Russian mafia, which we have established is pretty much the entire Russian state, has found a productive and lucrative living in the illegal heroin trade using the tried and true barter system; guns for drugs. Isn’t that special? That’s what providers do, don’t you know. “Daddy did his part today my sweet dear darling in making the odds more favorable for you to be sold into sex slavery or for you to become a junkie.” That’s what providers do — they provide by whatever means necessary, and if that means depriving others of a quality of life and sustenance, well, so be it. No one ever said life was fair. A snippet from the link:
Drugs for guns: how the Afghan heroin trade is fuelling the Taliban insurgency
The heroin flooding Britain’s streets is threatening the lives of UK troops in Afghanistan, an Independent investigation can reveal. Russian gangsters who smuggle drugs into Britain are buying cheap heroin from Afghanistan and paying for it with guns. Smugglers told The Independent how Russian arms dealers meet Taliban drug lords at a bazaar near the old Afghan-Soviet border, deep in Tajikistan’s desert. The bazaar exists solely to trade Afghan drugs for Russian guns – and sometimes a bit of sex on the side.
The drugs are destined for Britain’s streets. The guns go straight to the Taliban front line. The weapons on sale include machine guns, sniper rifles and anti-aircraft weapons like the ones used in the attempt to assassinate the Afghan President Hamid Karzai last weekend.
“We never sell the drugs for money,” boasted one of the smugglers. “We exchange them for ammunition and Kalashnikovs.”
The drugs come mostly from Helmand, where most of Britain’s 7,800 troops are based. The opium grown there is turned into heroin at factories inside Afghanistan, sold into Tajikistan and smuggled to Europe. The guns are broken down into parts, smuggled back into Afghanistan and delivered to the Taliban. One kilogram of heroin can buy about 30 AK-47 assault rifles at the bazaar.
Nato claims the Taliban get between 40 and 60 per cent of their income from drugs. The smugglers’ claims suggest the real cost could be far higher.
The smugglers described a bleak village with no homes, hidden in the desert near the border. Inside open-air courtyards up to 300 shopkeepers sit in small booths. They act as agents of the Russian mafia who supply the guns and spirit the drugs away. The Afghans are agents of corrupt officials in their government, said a mid-level lieutenant Daoud.
Around them lurk Tajik prostitutes, selling themselves for a few scraps of surplus heroin. “They will do anything. They just want some heroin and we always have some spare,” said another smuggler.
We interviewed three smugglers in the lawless border areas north and east of Kunduz, a city in northern Afghanistan, as well as a Taliban go-between who was visiting from Helmand.
Speaking from his headquarters in Kunduz province, Daoud said Afghan smugglers lug sacks of grade-A heroin across the river Oxus, which marks the Tajik border. They drive pick-ups as far as they can, take motorbikes where the cars can’t go, and finish the journey on foot. “We leave early in the evening and get there around 9am the next day,” he said. “There aren’t even any tracks because we never ride the motorbikes to the same place twice.”
The heroin is harvested from opium farms across Afghanistan and taken to factories in the remote Pamir mountains in the Badakhshan region, where it is turned into heroin. It takes about 15kg of opium to make 1kg of heroin, said Daoud. From Badakhshan it is brought west to Kunduz, for the trip to Tajikistan. The weapons follow similar routes, but in the opposite direction, south and east to the fighting.
“We are like a company,” said Daoud. “We have some big sponsors who support us in the government.”
A kilogram of the best Afghan heroin is worth £600 in Afghanistan. It is worth twice as much at the bazaar in Tajikistan. But rather than take cash, they take weapon parts, because they double their value in Afghanistan. An AK-47 assault rifle costs £50 at the bazaar. It is worth up to £100 in northern Afghanistan, and even more in the south and east where demand for guns is higher, because of the fighting.
The Taliban go-between said fighters in Helmand expect to get six AK-47s for 1kg of good quality heroin, a similar number of rocket-propelled grenades or a dozen boxes of ammunition.
British special forces have arrested or killed drugs smugglers linked to the insurgency, alongside a secretive unit of the Afghan army called 333, but the bulk of the International Security Assistance Force is handicapped by its mandate which does not include counter-narcotics operations, unless they can be linked to the insurgency.
The smugglers claimed they are “untouchable” because their bosses include cabinet-level officials in the government. British officials suspect senior government insiders are involved in the drugs trade, but they have struggled to get the support from Mr Karzai, or the evidence, to arrest them.
That’s correct. You’re reading it right. Kalashnikovs. Gee, who makes these weapons? Putin’s Russia, that’s who. As this next link reveals, since the entire organized crime structure that is Russia is linked from government executive level to street level, it therefore holds that Putin and his mafia associates are supplying the Taliban through the backdoor. Euan Grant at that excellent Open Democracy link describes comprehensively how it works:
Russian Transnational Organised Crime – what is it?
Russian Transnational Organised Crime (TNOC) has many similarities with the late twentieth century model of the US Sicilian mafia (Cosa Nostra) and the Italian mafias. The Russian mafia, like the Italian and to some extent the US groups, has combined street level visible crime such as human trafficking and drug smuggling with less visible white collar crimes such as counterfeiting of goods, particularly cigarettes, and tax evasion on an industrial scale. While the boundaries between these types of crime are fluid, the fact that both are operated by criminal groups presents enormous challenges for international law enforcement agencies. The Russian mafia put organised crime on a business footing in a few short years. It took the US Sicilians decades.
What is more important for an understanding of the problem is the difference between these national organised crime structures. Unlike the USA in recent decades, although with some similarity to Italy even now, Russian organised crime enjoys significant levels of state protection — the leaked US diplomatic cables were certainly right about that. In Russia and other countries of the Former Soviet Union (FSU), it is not just a question of organised crime being big business. Big business is organised crime. And, given that no big business in Russia can operate without government approval (just ask the numerous exiles who left Russia in 2003 after the arrest of Mikhail Khodorkovsky) it follows that the state and organised crime are inextricably linked.
Too difficult to confront?
Russian TNOC has other features which are less familiar to western law enforcement agencies operating in countries where the rule of law is paramount.
It has connections. There are close, almost seamless, links with the ‘deep state’ kleptocracy of government, parliament, civil service, law enforcement and business at all levels, as well as the military and, above all, the security services. As a result, Russian law enforcement structures offer international agencies only very limited cooperation. Where they deal with matters themselves, they only look at blatantly obvious offences, so major criminals usually receive only token punishment. The obvious example of the involvement of state institutions in serious crime inside Russia is the tragic case of Sergei Magnitsky. The forthcoming inquest into the death of Alexander Litvinenko will doubtless produce more evidence of state protection for criminal agents of the state carrying out serious crimes outside Russia.
When dealing with Russian organised crime, the old maxim ‘follow the money’ can be extended to ‘and follow the ex soldiers’. The importance of identifying connections between military camaraderie groups has been stressed by Misha Glenny, a British journalist who specialises in global organised crime.
The Russian mafia does not just operate multinationally. It is multinational, though perhaps that isn’t always obvious. It makes maximum use of the dual or multiple nationality status many people are entitled to as a result of the breakup of the Soviet Union, and exploits differences in transliteration practices so that names in passports are often spelt differently. There are also well over a million former Soviet citizens living in Israel with citizenship there, free to travel to the EU and North America without visas (Israelis have visa free access to Russia as well). The mafia also makes extensive use of ethnic Russians holding EU passports (especially from Germany and the Baltic States) and with ethnically Baltic criminals. Odessa and Riga are, from the criminals’ point of view, Russian cities- and it is no coincidence that they were, and Odessa still is, favoured retirement locations for former military personnel. All this complicates the responses of law enforcement agencies in western countries, which often confuse ethnicity and nationality.
There are particularly close links between Russian and Israeli organised crime groups, and any evaluation of Russian and FSU countries’ TNOC must take into account the Israeli connections, especially at high levels. For geopolitical and national security reasons, Israel provides a safe haven for organised criminals from former Soviet republics. An obvious recent example is Michael Cherney, who gave evidence from Israel via video link in his English court case against fellow oligarch Oleg Deripaska regarding shareholdings in the aluminium producer Rusal.
Michael Cherney is the subject of a European arrest warrant issued by Spain in relation to money laundering allegations, a scenario which highlights the common settings of alleged corporate criminality and street level crime: many of those arrested in the Vienna ‘Ostmafia’ case of March 2010, which was partly to do with burglaries and credit card theft, were based in Spain. Many of those involved in that case had military experience from Soviet times, and as such have given a major boost to Israeli military manpower, as well as providing links between arms producers and suppliers in both countries and in associated states – links that give a high level of protection from the attention of law enforcers both in their own countries and further afield. The connections persist despite the political window dressing of wanted persons fleeing to Israel, where they are free from the possibility of extradition to Russia.
Masters of all trades
The Russian mafia has many and varied skills to offer, more so than many organised crime groups, so they do not have to buy in much expertise and therefore their security is tighter. This range of know-how reflects the availability of physical force operatives from the ranks of former police and military groups, cyber criminals and counterfeiters through links with academia, and financial expertise from the business community, including banks themselves. Counter detection skills are also accessible, thanks to links with law enforcers and the security services. Plenty of other groups have some of these links, but few have so many. Any meaningful deterrence, detection and investigation strategies need to take account of these multiple capabilities, and ensure that anyone who needs to know about them is told.
Russian TNOC is able to deal in a lot of products simultaneously. It can play a key role in traditional street level crime such as drug trafficking and prostitution, thanks to its links with heroin trafficking from Afghanistan (veterans of the 1980s Afghan War play a prominent role here) and through arranging the supply of sex industry workers to western and southern Europe. Its almost indivisible links with the military / industrial/ security service complex mean that at street level it has access to arms, and at boardroom level it has the ability to supply them, making Russian TNOC a national security as well as public safety threat.
This also gives it enormous bargaining power through barter, for example when it supplies arms and ammunition to the FARC guerrillas and drugs traffickers in Colombia in return for shares in cocaine trafficking to Europe, with precious metals and diamonds used as barter mediums outside the banking system. These operations have been taking place with the full knowledge of law enforcement agencies in former Soviet states. Mexican authorities at the highest level are now increasingly concerned about recent Russian presences in Mexico, the other centre of the cocaine trafficking route. Where the weapons and military equipment flow, the technicians follow, and that provides legitimate cover for illegitimate traffic.
This access to both military equipment and to precious metals on a wide scale makes Russian transnational organised crime very distinctive. The UK is a key player in identifying its roles in such networks, as it is a very well informed centre of operations for private military companies. These companies will be aware of operations by Russian and other FSU personnel in their areas of work, and of the much lower corporate governance standards which apply. The UK is also a major base of international mining operations, and this provides opportunities for obtaining information about abuses in this sector, such as illegal or untaxed extraction from mines and the payment of bribes to politicians in source countries.
Russian TNOC is able to operate at several levels and through a range of supply chains. These capabilities increase its bargaining power with potential partners or rivals and provide greater protection from law enforcement measures, as thanks to their extensive ‘in-house’ capabilities they do not need to rely on outsiders. At street level they have a large supply of multinational enforcers.
At mid-level they have bank staff, accountants and lawyers who are in effect on their payroll, and at the highest levels they are able to deal as equals with business chiefs, civil servants and politicians. It is this high level capability in the international business field that differentiates the Russian mafia from other groups such as the Mexican drugs cartels, although newly established and growing links with the Mexicans suggest that the latter will soon expand their operations into the field of big business.
What is most noteworthy about that excellent analysis is how inextricably linked Israel is with Russia. Since we now know Russia is a highly criminal enterprise, it begs the question, is Israel as well? Something to consider. It also begs the question, as cozy as Israel and Russia appear to be behind the scenes, is Israel’s influence in Washington a Russian backdoor to controlling the American political process? It certainly would explain the seeming contradictions like Israel’s no-show for the U.N. resolution vote in March condemning Russia’s sham annexation of Crimea per this article from, get this, The Electronic Intifada. Perhaps it’s time to kick the Israelis out of America and the West as well as the Russians, since they appear to be one and the same. From my vantage, they share that same special soul they’re always harping on about. It would also explain the overwhelming anti-American pro-Russian support in the majority of comment sections in Western media spaces — Hasbara has combined its efforts with Russian propagandists to defile what it sees as its stooge — America.
The question has been asked, why doesn’t Putin shut down the Western supply lines running through Russia and Russian-controlled territory into and out of Afghanistan? I think that question’s been answered, but it’s not the answer most want to hear or accept. As we’ve seen, the Western poppy (not to be confused with Poppy Bush) production program in Afghanistan is paying off large for Putin’s Russia, so, you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, but also, as we now know, Putin gets to kill Western and American grunts in Afghanistan with his guns for drugs program. The Taliban are his friends, and Western and American grunts are target practice. Keep this image in mind when you see Obama at the press conference announcing the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl as a Taliban POW. You know he has to know what we know. You know most, if not all, who hold power know what we know per this blog post, and yet it continues unabated. I call that complicity. Guilty as charged. This article from Asia Times asks the right question, but provides an offal-strewn, misdirecting answer. Imagine that. Their bricolaged reasoning is never satisfactory, yet they expect it to be accepted as valid — and most do accept it even though it doesn’t add up. Per the linked article:
Why Putin is being so helpful to the US
The United States is now sending almost all its supplies for the Afghan war through Russia or countries obedient to Moscow. Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan would not allow US convoys had Russian President Vladimir Putin not sanctioned it. This route has taken away the leverage that Pakistani generals had over the US by virtue of the importance of the southern convoy routes.
In world affairs, one power only rarely helps another without incurring a debt, financial or otherwise. Even during World War II, the US leaned on Britain to open its empire to US commerce. Today, Putin has been exceptionally helpful to the US, despite having to endure disappointments and annoyances over the missile shield, Libya, and Syria.
He even faced an uninformed and worrisome statement from presidential contender Mitt Romney about Russia being the US’s chief foe in the world.
The Russian president might obligingly inform his potential counterpart – in the interest of greater international understanding, of course – that if he were a foe, or treated as one in the future, he could maroon an American-European expeditionary force in the foreboding mountains and deserts of Central Asia.
Accommodating foreign powers and forbearance on the world stage have not been hallmarks of Russian or Soviet foreign policy over the years.
Nor are they readily discernible in the outlooks of former KGB officers. So why is Putin being so helpful to the US? The answer lies in common interests in Afghanistan, but perhaps more importantly in common concerns over the emerging geopolitics of Central Asia.
Russia and the US share an interest in countering Islamist militancy in Afghanistan and elsewhere. In recent years Russia has faced such militants in the Caucasus (Chechnya, Dagestan, and Ossetia) and does not wish to see their likes regain control of Afghanistan from which militancy might readily spread into Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. Russia sees these former Soviet republics as in its sphere and it has worried of pan-Islamic movements there since the days of the communists – if not those of the tsars.
The importance of US supply lines into Afghanistan, in the eyes of the Kremlin, is not limited to the war and a show of cooperation. Putin is an avid student of state power and economics and knows that during the American Civil War (1861-65), the army built up the rail and telegraphic infrastructure which contributed mightily to the nation’s subsequent economic boom; during World War II, the US built ports and air bases around the world that later expanded global commerce; and the port facilities and logistical hubs of the Vietnam war have proved useful to the Hanoi government long after the US departed in 1975.
Putin is also knowledgeable in judo, a martial art in which the expert uses his opponents’ strengths to his advantage. In the Central Asian case, however, both partners will benefit though not equally. As the limitations of the roads, depots, and rail lines running from the Black Sea and Baltic Sea into Central Asia become clear to NATO logistics experts, it will be necessary to improve, expand and modernize them.
The US will build an infrastructure system that Russia and other countries in the region will benefit from for many decades. Corporations that today see Afghanistan as tempting but inaccessible will look again at those promising geological surveys that found great riches.
The US will be bringing in war material and development supplies; the enterprises of various countries will be taking out Afghan copper, iron, and rare earths. Extraction will be confined for the near term to the north where the insurgency is weak but with a settlement someday, southern resources too can head north, especially if Pakistan becomes more unstable and Iran remains under international sanctions.
Note the part in bold. Iraq, anyone? As I noted in earlier posts, the palmy recipients of Operation Iraqi Freedom are Russia and China, and so too, it looks like they’ll also be the palmy recipients of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. More irony. There’s so much of it these days. The Saker has told us “Russia Stands For Freedom” and the two military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan that were conducted for the benefit of China and Russia are referred to as Freedom of one sort or another. America and The West are stooges — doing the dirty work for China and Russia to mop up the spoils. And yet no one questions it. Except the little old lonely snowflake that is me.
Also notice, Asia Times, for obvious reasons, doesn’t mention drugs at all. Funny that. The mainstream media, and the majority of the alternative media are insouciant about the drug angle — as though it doesn’t exist, or if it does, it doesn’t matter. I beg to differ. Heroin is as much, if not more, a kickshaw as is rare earth metals.
Keep in mind that amidst this discussion, Obama has recently announced that there will not be a compete withdrawal from Afghanistan. Ten-thousand troops (mostly military advisors and technical personnel) will be left in place to be withdrawn by the end of 2016, or so he says. It’s always subject to change, as was his promise to have all troops withdrawn by the end of 2014. Interesting. Despite the alleged tension between The West and Russia over the feigned Ukraine crisis, Western supply lines to Afghanistan through Russia remain intact, and Obama commits to extending the poppy production program and using Western and American personnel as target practice for an emboldened and Russian-armed Taliban insurgency. Isn’t it great how this works?
Putin takes care of his capos though, you must admit. Loyalty is highly rewarded with more money-making scams at the expense of not only ordinary Russians but ordinary people the world over who pay tribute to Putin via the backdoor tax of artificially high oil prices. Putin didn’t pay for Sochi and the graft that created the Potemkin spectacle that would make Catherine the Great blush, you did. I did. We all did. And Putin and his caporegime laugh — all the way to the bank like the authors of books about Collapse. This article from The Australian describes why drug-dealing in Russia is the place you ought to be, so load up your truck and head to Sochi (too late). Per the link:
Drug lord Gafur Rakhimov made a deal for Russia to win the Winter Olympics
A HEROIN kingpin whom Australia banned from attending the Sydney Olympics as part of the Uzbekistan boxing team admits he helped Russia win the Winter Games by obtaining critical votes.
Gafur Rakhimov, vice-president of the Olympic Council of Asia and the AIBA world boxing association, said he won votes for the Sochi bid from International Olympic Committee members, but denied bribes.
He is described as a top organised crime boss and heroin smuggler by US law enforcement officials and is under criminal indictment in Uzbekistan, where he was once a senior boxing official.
He is expected to stay away from the Sochi Olympics and is staying in Dubai at the moment to avoid arrest.
Former Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock angered IOC officials in 2000 when he denied Rakhimov’s entry for the Sydney Olympics over “serious issues of character”.
In 2012, US Treasury officials sought to freeze Rakhimov’s bank accounts, describing him as a “key member” of a huge Russian-Asian criminal syndicate called the Brothers’ Circle. Russian Olympic Committee president Leonid Tyagachev thanked Rakhimov for his “single-minded work” in obtaining IOC members’ votes for Sochi.
Several Russian organised crime bosses believed to be involved in parts of the $50 billion Sochi Olympic building program have been gunned down in recent years.
Former British ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray said Rakhimov was one of the “four or five most important people in the heroin trade in the world”.
Tension has surrounded the build-up to the Olympics, with the threat of a terrorism attack considered high.
Despite this, some of the biggest names in corporate Australia, including Lachlan Murdoch and James Packer, are refusing to be scared off and will venture to Sochi.
Australia’s richest person, iron ore magnate Gina Rinehart, is also considering attending after being invited by Olympics broadcaster Network Ten, of which she is a shareholder, a spokesman confirmed.
She would be joined by one of her business confidants, Hungry Jack’s king Jack Cowin.
“The main issue will be outside Sochi, going in and out of Moscow, but I take the view you might get struck by lightning on the way home from work,” she said.
Notice the bolded part. It’s a funny use of words to describe this scumbag, don’t you think? “Most important?” I could find a myriad of less flattering ways to describe this contemptible pathogen. Don’t be too harsh, Craig. You wouldn’t want to offend this fecal smear lest you take a bullet to the head at some later date. I’ll offend for you, you coward, since you don’t have the temerity to call this thing what it is — which is inhuman excrement because human excrement is too kind.
I know, this is far too long and information dense for even the most fastidiously inquisitive among us. So, I’ll wind it up by highlighting the title of this blog post’s namesake, krokodil. What is krokodil, you ask? For those who don’t know, it’s a Russian homemade substitute for heroin, and it’s a toxic concoction — not that heroin isn’t toxic in its own right, but this formula uses poisonous household cleaners and paint thinner combined with codeine to simulate a short-lived heroin-like high. It’s the poor man’s heroin in Russia, and let’s face it, there are a lot of poor men, and women, in Russia when you get outside the Potemkin cosmopolitan districts of Moscow and St. Petersberg. Here’s an excellent article from The International Journal of Drug Policy describing the krokodil epidemic plaguing Russia’s hinterlands. Per the link:
Russia, Ukraine and all other former Soviet countries share a long history of injection of home produced opioid and stimulant drugs that dates back to before the demise of the Soviet Union. Researchers have documented a lively and regionally varied pattern of small scale production and injection of home-made heroin (called Cheornaya in Russia and Himiya in Ukraine), methamphetamine (Vint) and methcathinone (Jeff) (e.g. Booth et al., 2008, Grund, 2002, Heimer et al., 2007a, Platt et al., 2008). After the political changes of the 1990s, the home production of injectable drugs first spread rapidly across the Russian speaking region, but afterwards the pattern diversified. Since the late 1990s, imported Afghan heroin gradually replaced home produced drugs in many Russian cities and smaller communities, in particular those on and adjacent to heroin trafficking routes. The same was observed in the Baltic States (Zábranský et al., 2012) and in all five Central Asian countries (Renton et al., 2006, UNODCCP, 2000). But imported heroin never became widely available in Ukraine and the practice of home cooking remained common in both urban and rural areas, while the home production of amphetamines increased markedly (Booth et al., 2008, Shulga et al., 2010). In other places, the production of homemade injectables continued alongside emerging heroin markets.
In the last three to five years an increasing number of reports suggest that people who inject drugs (PWID) in Russia, Ukraine and other countries are no longer using poppies or raw opium as their starting material, but turning to over-the-counter medications that contain codeine (e.g. Solpadeine, Codterpin or Codelac). Codeine is reportedly converted into desomorphine (UNODC, 2012, Gahr et al., 2012a, Gahr et al., 2012b, Gahr et al., 2012c, Skowronek et al., 2012). The drug is called Russian Magic, referring to its potential for short lasting opioid intoxication or, more common, to its street name, krokodil. Krokodil refers both to chlorocodide, a codeine derivate, and to the excessive harms reported, such as the scale-like and discolored (green, black) skin of its users, resulting from large area skin infections and ulcers. At this point, Russia and Ukraine seem to be the countries most affected by the use of krokodil, but Georgia (Piralishvili, Gamkrelidze, Nikolaishvili, & Chavchanidze, 2013) and Kazakhstan (Ibragimov and Latypov, 2012, Yusopov et al., 2012) have reported krokodil use and related injuries as well.
The objective of this paper is to review the existing information on the production and use of krokodil in the Eurasian region, the extent of its use and the associated harms. The paper examines the emergence and risk environment of krokodil within the context of the region’s recent social history and the atypical homemade drug markets that (re-) emerged in the last decades of communism. Recent changes in local and international drug markets are considered in search of explanations for the emergence of this harmful drug. Possible harm reduction responses are explored and questions for further research presented.
It’s clear these mopes are started on heroin and when they can no longer afford the luxury of it, they move to the cheap and inadequate homemade imitation to fuel their craving for more. Consider this when we read earlier how stingy and obstinate Putin’s Russia is when it comes to drug addiction intervention and treatment. Keep it illegal, push it on them, use them up and throw them away. Increase the birthrate so you’ll have a steady supply of future junkies as well as sex slaves for export. The following video by Vice is an excellent short documentary about heroin and krokodil use in Russia.
Sasha Pelikhov of the drug interdiction organization called Rehabilitate Russia indicates, starting at the 6:17 mark, “that bringing heroin into Russia is one of the ways of degenerating the nation. The fact that it’s so simple to load the country with heroin indicates there’s some kind of agenda.” You are absolutely right, Sasha, there is an agenda at play, but the agenda you conjured is not the correct one. The traitors in the Kremlin are the ones responsible for degenerating your country and the world. They’re criminals of the worst sort. Until the Russian people realize it, and the entire world realizes it, the criminal enterprise that Putin resides over will continue its creep into every facet of global economics and politics.
So, when Putin and his mouthpieces feign to care about the devastating consequences of their drug epidemic and cry it’s The West that won’t cooperate and it’s The West that brought them the decadence, I flip them the bird, or better yet, both birds with some Julie London (the best version of this famous song, imo).