Growing of opium poppies may be renewed in the Issyk-Kul Valley in Kyrgzia
Wednesday, January 09, 2002
Pravda, Russia, Bishkek, Kyrgyzia. By Yury Razgulyayev, translated by Maria Gousseva
The World Health Organization, together with Kyrgyzias State Commission for Drug Control, held a round-table discussion on the most acute problem of the 21st century, drug addiction, in Bishkek. A sensational statement was made during the discussion: this year, Kyrgyzia may become another country for the production of hard drugs, heroine in particular.
As it became known, such alarming forecasts have appeared in the West long ago. They are all based upon the rich experience of the mountainous republic in opium poppy growing. The beautiful venomous plant had been grown in the republic until the mid 1970s. The plantations were legal, as the poppy was officially meant for production of medicines. The Issyk-Kul valley supplied 95% of raw opium to the Soviet pharmaceutical industry.
However, the opium plantations became a source of income for the mighty drug mafia, which rather quickly took control over the very profitable industry. Any statistics concerning drugs was secret at that time. That is why we can not define now what part of the opium grown in the republic was illegally used. It is interesting to mention that the opium grown in the Issyk-Kul valley was in great demand even in New York. The nature of the lake is rather special and adds peculiar characteristics to the opium grown there. Such opium was remarkable for its strong effects on the body. That is why prices for such opium were high. However, in the mid 1970s, the world community insisted on the closure of the opium growing in the Issyk-Kul valley.
The problem was touched upon once again at the very dawn of independent Kyrgyzstan when Vice-President Felix Kulov offered to renew opium production in the Issyk-Kul valley. Even calculations that proved the profitability of such a renewal were presented. The vice-president believed that renewal of opium production in the Issyk-Kul valley would solve the economic problems of the young state. However, President Askar Akayev did not support the initiative, as he probably wanted to avoid negative reaction of the world community. Or ,perhaps, he understood perfectly well that the criminality generated by the opium production will be beyond his control in the republic.
Ten years have passed since that time. The situation has changed, especially that of the drug business. Despite the hard struggle against drug circulation, there is still little hope for a success. The majority of drug traffic still runs via the south of the republic. There is information that the drug dealers ousted from Afghanistan by Americans dream of launching heroine production in the Issyk-Kul valley. The place is suited well for it.
The present authorities of Kyrgyzia are very determined to fight against heroine production in the republic, but as history reveals, drugs may be stronger than any authorities, especially such a hard and expensive drug as heroine.
Now, heroine is produced in small primitive laboratories in Kyrgyzia. But, if enough raw supplies are supplied, the production can be expanded. Thus, the anxiety of the authorities in Bishkek has very solid grounds.