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    WILLIAM PATON: DRUGS TRIGGERS CORRUPTION SPREADING IN TAJIKISTAN

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    DUSHANBE, March 3, 2004. (RIA Novosti). Drugs have influenced the development of corruption in Tajikistan, UNDP Resident Representative in the Tajik Republic told journalists on Wednesday.

    In 1999-2003 the UN has allocated 10 million dollars on anti-drug programs in Tajikistan, including 4 million dollars on the activities of the Tajik President's Drug Control Agency (AKN). The pay-off of this project is 1.5 billion dollars, Paton stressed. "The agency's work is very successful and donors are willing to continue it in the future," he said.

    "Tajikistan does not conceal the amount of seized drugs, however, only 15 per cent of drugs produced in Afghanistan are transited via Tajik territory," said AKN director, Lieutenant General Gafor Mirzoyev. The main flow of drugs goes via Iran, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, he added.

    "We don't want drugs transited via Tajikistan to be a source of terrorists and extremists' financing," he said.

    In his words, in 2000-2003 AKN officials exposed and neutralized 82 organized groups consisting of Tajik, Uzbek and Russian citizens.

    Speaking about cooperation with the Russian State Committee for Trafficking of Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (GKN), Mirzoyev said that an agreement will be signed between the two departments in late March.

    "After that, AKN will open offices in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Novosibirsk and GKN in Dushanbe," he noted.

    According to AKN deputy director, Major General Rustam Nazarov said that Tajikistan is expecting Afghanistan to sign a memorandum on anti-drug cooperation for a year already. Two AKN communications officers have been working in Kabul since February 18, 2003, he added.

    The number of Afghanistan's opium poppy growing provinces has increased from 28 to 32 in 2003. The poppy area grew from 72,000 to 80,000 hectares, According to Nazarov, 3,600 tons of opium was produced in 2003 and this year opium production will increase by 20 per cent.

    All special services and Russian border guards seized over 9.603 tons of drugs, including 5.6 tons of heroin, in Tajikistan in 2003.

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