Drug smuggling from Afghanistan has boosted in Russia, the Russian Foreign Ministry's official spokesman Alexander Yakovenko stated in his interview with RIA Novosti in the light of the upcoming international conference, "Ways of Drug Transit: From Central Asia to Europe", scheduled to take place on May 21st-22nd in Paris.
"This is due to drug dealers' activation of "the northern route" /via Central Asian countries to Russia, Europe, the USA and Canada/, which they consider the most attractive and promising," the diplomat believes.
According to UN estimates, in 2002 Afghanistan produced about 75 per cent of the world drugs /followed by Myanmar and Laos producing 22 and 3 per cent of drugs respectively/, Mr. Yakovenko pointed out. In 2002 the area to grow opium poppy in Afghanistan was 9.25 times more than the year before. As a result, illegal production of opiates amounted to 3,400 tons, which is 18 times more in comparison with 2001.
According to UN information, the number of opium addicts in the world totals nearly 9 million people, while the international Afghan drugs trade involves about 500 thousand people all over the world.
Heroin produced in Afghanistan is conquering new territories not only on the Eurasian continent but also in North America, Japan and Australia. Its major part is sold outside Afghanistan, most of which remains in transit states. Three thirds of heroin realised in Europe and almost all heroin consumed in Russia also come from Afghanistan.
"Afghan drug smuggling is a global problem, which can be considered "a new threat", Mr. Yakovenko stressed. "We can eliminate this dangerous challenge by making joint efforts," the diplomat believes.
An unidentified man wielding a knife attacked civilians in the Church of Notre Dame in the French city of Nice. Three people were killed, several others were hospitalised with injuries.One of the victims was beheaded