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U.S. Department of State
1997 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, March 1998

United States Department of State

Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs


Europe and Central Asia

KAZAKHSTAN

I. Summary

Kazakhstan continues to be a popular drug corridor for trafficking from major drug producing countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan to Russian and western European markets. In 1997, the number of international drug trafficking rings operating in the region increased, including rings from Nigeria and Brazil. The volume of drugs produced and smuggled also increased. Marijuana harvested in the Chu Valley of southern Kazakhstan in 1997, for example, was estimated at 500 metric tons. However, the official statistics for 1997 will not be available until early 1998. The Government of Kazakhstan (GOK) approved a national program to combat illicit drug trafficking and abuse. It has also created, and partially staffed, an inter-ministerial state Drug Control Commission charged with coordinating counternarcotics policy and programs. In April, Kazakhstan acceded to the 1988 UN Convention, and is awaiting ratification of these Conventions by the Parliament. Dublin Group embassies in Kazakhstan regularly hold mini-Dublin Group meetings to coordinate international counternarcotics assistance programs with the State Drug Control Commission.

II. Status of Country

Increasing drug trafficking and drug crop harvesting are Kazakhstan's most serious illicit drug problems. Drug trafficking from Afghanistan and Pakistan continued to increase, according to local law enforcement officials. In addition, cocaine from Brazil has been confiscated at the Almaty airport. The most popular means to transport drugs through Kazakhstan is on north-bound trains from Kazakhstan to Moscow, using adolescent and/or elderly people to smuggle the goods in their baggage or on their persons. Drug abuse among Kazakhstani citizens under the age of 30 continued to rise. Money laundering is easily accomplished in Kazakhstan due to a lack of banking regulations and infrastructure, and often goes hand-in-hand with drug trafficking. There have been no reports of precursor production in Kazakhstan during the last calendar year.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 1997

Law Enforcement Efforts. In 1997, the Parliament adopted a new criminal code and is considering a draft law on criminal procedures, forensics and illicit drug controls. In March 1997, the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan approved a national strategy for combatting illicit narcotics and drug abuse. In May 1997, Kazakhstan signed a bilateral Narcotics Assistance Agreement with the USG for $100,000 in counternarcotics training, equipment and technical assistance. In July 1997, the GOK established a Secretariat for the State Drug Control Commission. Although the Commission has been partially staffed, it has not yet been funded by the GOK. In November 1997, the President dissolved the State Investigations Committee (GSK) and reassigned narcotics and organized crime investigations to the Committee for National Security (KNB), formerly the Committee for State Security (KGB).

Corruption. There have been no investigations, prosecutions or convictions of government officials on narco-related issues in Kazakhstan in 1997. However, corruption, particularly in the lower echelons of government service where salaries are low ($100-150 per month), is rampant.

Agreements and Treaties. In April, 1997, Kazakhstan acceded to the 1961 UN Single Convention, and its 1972 Protocol, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1988 UN Drug Convention. The USG has concluded a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement (CMAA) with the Government of Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan has entered into several inter-NIS agreements on law enforcement cooperation and information sharing.

Cultivation/Production. The Chu Valley remains the top marijuana growing area in Central Asia, capable of producing 500 metric tons of marijuana per year. There are reports, however, that due to increased police surveillance in the Chu Valley, marijuana plantations are being developed in the Dzhambyl Region of southern Kazakhstan.

Demand Reduction. The United Nations Drug Control Program (UNDCP), together with the Kazakhstani Ministry of Education, has developed a counternarcotics education curriculum for school children aged 7-17. The curriculum is now being tested in pilot programs in Almaty, Dzhambyl, and Karaganda, and should be available for nationwide distribution for the 1998-1999 school year. A drug awareness media campaign for Kazakhstan is also in the beginning stages of development and will be coordinated by UNDCP, mini-Dublin Group countries in Kazakhstan, and the state Drug Control Commission.

IV. US Policy Initiatives and Programs

Bilateral Cooperation. The USG-Kazakhstan Narcotics Assistance Agreement totalling $100,000 in counternarcotics assistance has been designed to support the creation of a counternarcotics/law enforcement training center. The training center is designed to promote a drug awareness publication and circulation campaign, and an educational curriculum. These programs are being co-sponsored by UNDCP and the Ministry of Education and they have donated basic law enforcement equipment including drug testing kits to the GOK to support a national drug awareness public media campaign. The American Embassy and the UNDCP jointly sponsored a marijuana and poppy crop suppression roundtable discussion group with the Government of Kazakhstan in October 1997 to assist the GOK in developing a strategy for drug crop suppression and land rehabilitation. The Kazakhstani Institute of Zoology has a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Montana studying biological weed control. The student is currently researching and cultivating local diseases of cannabis and poppy plants for possible use as a natural or biological control agent for these drug crops.

The Road Ahead. The Government of Kazakhstan has begun to focus on the problems of drug trafficking through the country and rising drug abuse among youth. In a speech to Parliament on October 10, President Nazarbayev highlighted his commitment to combatting drug trafficking and drug abuse, and many GOK law enforcement agencies have shown interest in receiving training and equipment for counternarcotics purposes. The initiatives taken in 1997 by the GOK to coordinate the counternarcotics efforts of its law enforcement agencies have been positive. Kazakhstan remains open and receptive to assistance from donor countries to combat drugs. The GOK intends to follow international practices as it drafts new anti-narcotics laws. Kazakhstan must still develop implementing regulations for its new and proposed counternarcotics legislation.

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