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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06ASTANA188 2006-10-18 10:25:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Astana
Cable title:  

KAZAKHSTAN: COUNTER-NARCOTICS GOES UPTEMPO

Tags:   SNAR KCRM KCOR PREL KZ 
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1. Summary: Kazakhstan is increasing its anti-narcotics efforts in
the capital and increasingly throughout the country. The "Astana -
Drug-Free City" program was a key issue at the Security Council
Session chaired by President Nazarabayev on September 20. The
intensified counter-narcotics operations may increase arrest numbers
but likely will affect only small users.



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THE PRESIDENT PROCLAIMS...


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3. President Nazarbayev stated in a September 20 meeting of the
Security Council that the commitment of the capital city to combat
narcotics should set an example for the rest of Kazakhstan. With
the president's public backing, the akimat (city hall) of Astana in
consultation with the MVD developed a 2006-2008 program entitled
"Astana - Drug-Free City," to tackle demand reduction, treatment of
addiction, and drug trafficking. According to the official internet
news site "Kazinform," on September 29 the Government decided to
allot one billion tenge ($8 million) to implement the program.



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AND PRODS...


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4. In his speech at the Security Council Session President
Nazarbayev prodded the Committee for National Security (KNB) and the
MVD to crack down on drug use and the drug trade. Claiming officers
knew all the distribution networks in the city, he instructed law
and security officials to raid nightclubs and discotheques to curb
drug use in the capital. Nazarbayev advocated publicizing the raids
on TV in order to get the message out to the population that drug
use is unacceptable. Finally, he proposed that students themselves
should speak out against drug use.



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...AND THE GOOD TIMES COME TO AN END


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5. After the President's remarks to the Security Council,
law-enforcement bodies reacted swiftly to implement the program.
According to an MVD contact, there are 35 entertainment
establishments in Astana. Even though KNB and MVD officers
previously regularly conducted raids in the night clubs they were
considered superficial efforts. In the earlier raids most young
people were caught unawares by the police forces but none had reason
to be afraid since they were in possession of marijuana weighing
less than 50 grams. In his interview on "Khabar" channel on
September 21, Chairman of the Committee of Combating Drug
Trafficking and Drug Circulation Control Anatoly Vyborov said that
50 grams of marijuana is a significant amount and would be
sufficient to "fumigate" half of a school. (Note: Three years ago
the Parliament reduced the penalty for possession of a small amount
of marijuana and as a result marijuana is distributed everywhere
especially in universities and schools. Therefore, any student who
knows the law can safely carry 50 grams in his pocket and if caught
by the police pay the administrative penalty of 2,060 tenge ($16).
End note.)



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MVD MINISTER LEADS THE WAY


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6. According to a September 22 broadcast on "Khabar" television
channel, Astana police conducted a series of raids concentrating
their attention at entertainment establishments and "shady"
apartments. Unlike the past, every patron in the nightclubs was
carefully searched. It is a commonly accepted belief that night
clubs are focal points for drug dealers and that even some owners
are involved in the trade. However, that night the Minister of
Internal Affairs Baurzhan Mukhamedzhanov personally ran the special
operation along much stricter guidelines. The raids intercepted six
drug related crimes including two cases of drug dealing, 33 people
were detained for variety of reasons including drugs. The First
Deputy Head of the Astana city Internal Affairs Department Marat
Demeuov stated the raids will continue on a weekly basis.


7. The Head of the Astana city Internal Affairs Department,
Serimzhan Dosumov, in an interview on "Khabar" said he had closed
one disco-club and may close others should investigation show that
drug sales are linked to a particular establishment. Additionally,
he continued, if found complicit in the drug use or sales,

ASTANA 00000188 002.2 OF 002


night-club owners may be arrested and/or fined. In response,
according to "Mir" Television and Radio Company news, the nightclub
and other entertainment establishment owners formed a Union of
Owners of Nights Clubs and Entertainment Centers to counter the
spread of drugs in their businesses.



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PUTTING BIG NUMBERS ON THE BOARD


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8. The "Astana - Drug-Free City" program was designed for the
capital; however law-enforcement agencies have begun to apply it to
the whole country. After five days, the program eliminated 30 drug
dens and checked 455 entertainment establishments around the
country. Officers seized 10 kilos of illegal drugs, including more
than 3 kilos of heroin. Police announced they had uncovered 64
cases of drug trafficking. On October 3 the officers of the KNB
revealed a farm for growing high quality Afghan quality marijuana in
village of Romanovka, 30 km from Astana. The owners of the farm set
up an entire process to produce drugs. KNB officers seized 100
kilos of marijuana and 77 grams of heroin in this operation.



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THE KNB MAKES SIGNIFICANT ARRESTS


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9. To implement the President's wishes as stated at the Security
Council session, KNB divisions began operations against large drug
groups. The KNB press service reported that early morning on
October 6 at the last stage of a "controlled delivery" operation the
officers of Almaty KNB Department detained a five-person
international criminal drug ring. The members came from Tajikistan,
Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan and were trying to smuggle drugs through
the territory of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan inside a load of grapes.
As a result of the operation, officers seized high 66.5 kilos of
high quality afghan heroin and 197 kilos of opium. Since September
20 the bodies of national security seized 69 kilos of heroin and 200
kilos of opium in the country.



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COMMENT


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10. Kazakhstan law enforcement is definitely stepping up its
activities to attack illegal narcotics. Whether this is a permanent
effort or a production made for television is uncertain. Note: On
December 4 in Washington, INL is sponsoring a U.S.-Kazakhstan
discussion of the GOK counter-narcotics strategy and lessons which
can be learned from U.S. experience. End note.

ORDWAY