Source: Telking drugs
By Johnny Fortune
Despite Yuri Fedotov being appointed as the new head of the UNODC
only a few weeks ago, signs of diplomatic tensions arising out of his
appointment are already beginning to surface, with western diplomats
voicing their concerns about the future direction of the UNODC
following Mr. Fedotovs appointment. Yuri Fedotov was made head of the
UNODC after intense lobbying by the Russian government despite
Russia’s poor record of dealing with drugs and his own chequered past.
The fear of the British and United States is that Mr. Fedotov will
pursue a much tougher anti-heroin strategy and argue for the
wholesale destruction of the Afghan poppy fields, as the Russian
government has been arguing for. The British and United States more
recent approach to Afghan poppy farmers has been to try and persuade
them to grow other crops and provide them with incentives through
which to do so. A push from the UNODC to attempt to destroy as many
of the poppy fields as possible will most likely drive poor farmers
into the hands of the Taliban insurgency rather than encouraging them
to co-operate with the Afghan government and NATO and thus strengthen the insurgency
With Afghanistan supplying 90% of the world’s opium, the issue
concerning how best to deal with the problem of impoverished Afghan
poppy farmers has become a key battleground in international
politics. Russia is suffering from a growing heroin problem, partly
due to their failures in their internal drug-policy. However, the
other major issue is the geographical location of Afghanistan in
relation to Russia meaning that it is almost impossible for the
Russian government to control the influx of Heroin. 30,000 Russians
die each year from Heroin and Russia has been particularly critical
of NATO’s tactics in Afghanistan as a result.
It is feared by western diplomats that Russia’s call for aerial
spraying of the Afghan poppy fields will be adopted by Mr. Fedotov.
Such a move would clearly make life far more difficult for NATO and
Afghan forces on the ground in Afghanistan. The appointment of Mr.
Fedotov is now looking like a spectacular own goal by the United
Nations. Russia has a harmful and regressive drug policy and his
selection at the UNODC seems to send the wrong message about how to
deal with drugs, as well as heightening tensions between NATO and Russia.