President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Mr Ivanov, you deal with very important matters. Please report on your latest achievements, current difficulties, and progress in our cooperation with key nations engaged in drug fighting both in terms of law enforcement and joint organisational efforts.
Federal Drug Control Service Director Viktor Ivanov: Mr President, I can give you a brief end-of-year summary. In 2009, 46 tonnes of illegal drugs were seized, a 20 percent increase against a year earlier. The seized drugs equal to over half a billion doses.
The predominant category of drugs in Russia is the cannabis group, i.e. marijuana, in terms of both overall use percentage and absolute weight. About 90 percent of the drugs in the country, primarily heroin and hashish, originate from Afghanistan.
Dmitry Medvedev: Afghanistan is in a difficult situation. We certainly try to help it. I have met with President Karzai several times. Still, it is important that we are not alone in our efforts to help Afghanistan. The coalition forces in Afghanistan are currently quite active. Tell me whether you have joined efforts with your American and other international counterparts in combating drug trafficking.
Viktor Ivanov: Mr President, last year, we signed an agreement with Afghanistan on cooperation in suppressing drug trafficking. A Russian-Afghan forum was also held to address such cooperation. On its sidelines, I met with Vice-President of Afghanistan Karim Khalili who headed the delegation.
As for the United States of America, in line with your instruction on setting a working group within the U.S.- Russia [Bilateral] Presidential Commission, we had our second meeting on February 3–4 of this year and reached an agreement formalised in a protocol, on regulations for our activities, procedures for our meetings, appointment of coordinators for our work group, and establishment of three subgroups.
The first subgroup’s purpose is interaction in preventing drug production in and drug trafficking from Afghanistan and Latin American nations, where cocaine trafficking to many countries including Russia has been growing.
The second subgroup will coordinate suppressing demand for drugs, as well as rehabilitating and treating drug addicts.
The third subgroup is charged with convergence of legal standards and improvement of administrative measures and criminal prosecution.
Dmitry Medvedev: I see. How many U.S. agencies are involved in the fight against drugs?
Viktor Ivanov: As a matter of fact, Mr [Gil] Kerlikowske, my U.S. counterpart and the co-chair of the above working group, is the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy and a senior official in the U.S. administration in charge of strategic policies in combating drugs.
Other agencies and officials include U.S. Secretary of State Ms Clinton’s Assistant Secretary [for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs] Mr [David] Johnson, who supervises international cooperation strategies developing and monitoring. There are also some specialised agencies, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration which is quite identical to our [Federal Drug Control] Service, as well as corresponding departments in the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, and a special department in the Pentagon.
Dmitry Medvedev: In other words, the U.S. does not have a system for concentrating this work in just one agency, it is distributed among various agencies instead, while the U.S. administration is responsible for the political aspects.
Viktor Ivanov: That’s right.
Dmitry Medvedev: I see. As a matter of fact, this is fairly important in the context of the decisions I have made to improve our law enforcement, the performance of the Ministry of the Interior and other agencies, for which the experiences of our close partners is essential.
As far as cooperation with the United States and other nations is concerned, we must clearly prioritise employing effective methods of fighting drugs, conducting joint operations, and taking measures intended to improve the international legal framework for countering the drugs threat. I think there is much to be done about that in Russia too. Whether or not there are updated suggestions, I am certain that our respective legislation requires amendment in light of the global situation development and in view of the problems originating in Afghanistan, in Central Asia overall, in Latin America, and elsewhere.