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18 Jun, 2007 12:50

NATO and Russia fighting drugs together

Almost two dozen law-enforcement officers from Afghanistan and Central Asian countries have completed a special training course near Moscow. The scheme is a joint NATO-Russia project which aims to help combat drug production and trafficking around the glo

Launched two years ago with a price tag of almost $US 1 MLN, the pilot NATO-Russia project aims to help them learn a new trick or two to take back home. This time, 21 law-enforcement officers from Afghanistan and Central Asia have been training at the Domodedovo Centre near Moscow for the past few weeks.

Search and seizure techniques, surveillance and intelligence – these are the skills passed on to more than a hundred officers trained at the Centre over the past year.

“This programme is very hands-on. They had role games, studied mock court cases as well as some real ones. There was a mock underground drug lab with equipment used for drug production. They could also read specialist literature and watch videos,” Col. Yury Vasin from Internal Affairs Ministry explained.

Most of the trainees are from Afghanistan which is the world’s largest opium producer. Only six of its 34 provinces are opium-free.

“Over recent years drug production in a number of countries has shown no sign of falling. The UN estimates there were more than four and a half tons of opium, 450 tons of heroin and 900 tons of cocaine produced around the world last year. Only a small amount is seized. That’s why our programme was created,” Maj. Vladimir Kubyshko from the Internal Affairs Ministry said.

Next year, the Centre wants to double the number of its students and plans new courses – from fighting terrorism and peacekeeping, to transport security.