Heroin has become a large threat to Russia's national security after seizures of the drug rose 70 per cent, anti-narcotics police have said.
Victor Ivanov, head of Russia's anti-narcotics service, aid the country had become the world's biggest Afghan heroin consumer and has urged the UN to do more to fight the problem.
Mr Ivanov, a former KGB officer and senior Kremlin official, said the drug was partly to blame for rising crime and a fall in Russia's population.
"In recent years Russia has not just become massively hooked on Afghan opiates, it has also become the world's absolute leader in the opiate trade and the number one heroin consumer," he said.
"Drug trafficking has become a key negative factor for demography and a blow to our nation's gene pool... [and] a challenge to Russia's civilisation."
Russia has up to 2.5 million drug addicts out of a population of some 140 million, most of them aged between 18 and 39.
Mr Ivanov said 90 per cent of Russian addicts now took Afghan heroin.
He who did not say which country Russia had replaced as the top heroin user, but estimated the addiction cost Russia 3 per cent of its annual gross domestic product, which in 2008 totalled about $1.7 trillion.
Russia would press for a tough action plan on Afghanistan at a high-level meeting of the U.N.-sponsored Commission on Narcotic Drugs to be held in Vienna on March 11-12, he said.
Mr Ivanov said that in the first two months of this year, Russia had seized 400kg (880lb) of heroin - a 70 per cent increase on the same period last year.
He said it was impossible to control Russia's 4,375-mile border with Kazakhstan through which drugs arrive.
"It is real luck if 20 percent (of total trafficked volumes) are intercepted," he admitted. "Usually it's 10 per cent."
"Drug trafficking has become a key negative factor for demography and a blow to our nation's gene pool.
"This is why the issue of output and heroin smuggling from Afghanistan must be seen today as a challenge to Russia's civilisation."
He said it was time for the international community to take action against Afghan narcotics by spraying poppies and offering farmers incentives to grow other crops.
Afghanistan, which produces 93 percent of the world's heroin, has been ravaged by decades of civil war and a US-led international coalition is currently battling Islamist insurgency in the Central Asian state.
In a sign of its concern over Afghanistan, Moscow last month agreed to increase support for resupply shipments for NATO's operations in Afghanistan across its territory, despite differences with the United States over its war with Georgia last summer, NATO expansion eastwards and missile defence.
March 11, 2009
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