US embassy cable - 09ASHGABAT1675

DRUGS IN TURKMENISTAN: BURN, BABY, BURN

Identifier: 09ASHGABAT1675
Wikileaks: View 09ASHGABAT1675 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Ashgabat
Created: 2009-12-30 12:10:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL PGOV SNAR SOCI UN TX
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
VZCZCXYZ0020
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHAH #1675 3641210
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 301210Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3984
INFO RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 6061
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 3755
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 3614
RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 4303
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHMCSUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 4240
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1361
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L ASHGABAT 001675 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR SCA/CEN 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/30/2019 
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, SNAR, SOCI, UN, TX 
SUBJECT: DRUGS IN TURKMENISTAN: BURN, BABY, BURN 
 
REF: A. ASHGABAT 1261 
     B. ASHGABAT 1301 
 
Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Sylvia Reed Curran.  Reasons 1.4 (B) a 
nd (D). 
 
1. (SBU) On December 24, Poloff attended a drug burning 
ceremony run by the Turkmenistan State Counternarcotics 
Service (SCNS) in cooperation with the UN Office on Drugs and 
Crime (UNODC).  Turkmenistan conducts these ceremonies twice 
a year, and, according to government officials, burns all the 
drugs they have confiscated in their country during the 
six-month period.  At this event, one ton and 279 kilograms 
of hashish, opium, and heroin were burned.  Neither the 
Turkmen government officials nor the UNODC representatives 
stated where the confiscated drugs came from, but the 
diplomat from the Afghanistan Embassy said he assumed that 
most originated in Afghanistan.  Locals say that some hashish 
is domestically produced in Turkmenistan, but the majority of 
narcotics in the country come from across the southern border 
with Afghanistan. 
 
2. (SBU) The diplomatic community was invited to participate 
in this drug burning ceremony, as they have at previous such 
events.  The head of the SCNS in his opening remarks credited 
aid from UNODC as well as foreign governments, including the 
United States, for helping Turkmenistan bring its 
counternarcotics methods up to international standards.  The 
diplomats were then invited to look at samples of the 
confiscated hashish, opium, and heroin and also encouraged to 
throw the packets of drugs into the fire. 
 
3. (U) State-run newspaper Neutral Turkmenistan reported on 
the drug burning ceremony, saying that it was part of the 
Turkmenistan Government's decision to take active steps 
against drug addiction.  The newspaper also noted that 
Turkmenistan is doing its part to fight a global threat.  In 
addition to the law enforcement angle, the newspaper article 
claimed that the state-sponsored youth organization 
"Galkynysh" is spreading information about the harmful 
effects of drugs, and that more youth are now doing sports 
and living a healthy lifestyle. 
 
4. (C) COMMENT: Despite the publicity surrounding the drug 
burning ceremony and other counternarcotics efforts in 
Turkmenistan, drug addiction remains a large problem.  During 
the 1990s many young people started using drugs because of 
increased availability and rising unemployment.  President 
Berdimuhamedov has focused on increasing law enforcement 
capacity to counter the drug problem (ref A) and has taken a 
more punitive stance towards drug-related crimes than former 
President Niyazov, refusing to amnesty people arrested on 
drug-related charges (ref B).  While (unlike his predecessor) 
the current president has admitted that there is a drug abuse 
problem, he has done little in the way of prevention. For 
example, schools still do not have anti-drug education 
programs.  END COMMENT. 
CURRAN 

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