Victor Ivanov Escalates Economic Cooperation to Replace Drug Production in Afghanistan & Central Asia
March 18, 2012 • 9:10AM

Victor Ivanov, head of Russia's Federal Narcotics Control Service and a long-time associate of Prime Minister and President-elect Vladimir Putin, has made two new and updated initiatives to promote massive economic development of Afghanistan and the former Soviet Central Asian republics. In the broader one of the two, which are interrelated, Ivanov told the UN Commission on Narcotics meeting in Vienna March 12, that the time has come to dump neoliberal economics altogether, since globalized finance is the real market for the dope trade. Thus he reiterated the call he made in Washington, D.C. last November to get rid of the drug-addicted global bubble economy, stressing this time that he has the backing of President-elect Putin on this perspective.

On March 7, the daily Kommersant reported that Putin has instructed the Russian Foreign Ministry, Finance Ministry, and Economics Ministry to study proposals submitted by Ivanov in January, and to state their opinions by April 10. Victor Ivanov, according to the Kommersant report (which did not state its sources), has proposed "to create a Russian Corporation for Cooperation with the Countries of Central Asia. He reportedly wants Russia to allocate 2 billion rubles (around $70 million) to support the undertaking. It would aim to acquire shares in Central Asian hydroelectric power plants; promote the poultry industry; and develop "high-tech" assembly plants in Central Asia, competing with China.

Ivanov reportedly envisions the new firm as a "development corporation," similar to the North Caucasus Development Corporation, which is a subsidiary of VEB bank. It would operate through public-private partnerships (PPP) to promote development in the region "to protect Russian national interests."

Kommersant wrote that Victor Ivanov has the support of Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for this idea. His memoranda reportedly list a slew of Russian state corporations which should help set the new one up, including Rosneft, RusHydro, VTB, Gazprom, UES, Russian Railways, VEB, Sberbank, and Rosatom, as well as the private Alfa Group (banking) and Sistema (IT). Foreign partners from Central Asia could be involved. One of the aims would be to get control over two hydroelectric dams, the Kambaratinsk in Kyrgyzstan and the Rogun in Tajikistan. The draft includes a Water-Energy-Food program for the region, inclduing restoration of Soviet-era energy supply lines, construction of a Central Asian Nuclear Power Plant, and a South Siberia - Fergana Valley water pipeline, originating in Tobol. Another aspect would be a "protein security" program, involving poultry.

The title of Victor Ivanov's speech to 55th session of the UN Commission on Narcotics was "On approaches to a comprehensive and balanced anti-narcotics policy based on infrastructure development in the context of the challenge of eliminating the planetary center of narcotics production in Afghanistan."

"Full-fledged alternative development is what Afghanistan needs most of all today," Ivanov stated. "What does this mean in practice? It means organizing the industrialization and electrification of long-suffering Afghanistan, so that new technologies and infrastructure become the main source and locomotive of public wealth creation. I am convinced that the way to solve the problem of drug production is precisely to organize a socioeconomic upsurge through creating next-generation infrastructure, capable of providing access to a modern world-level quality of life for the majority of the population of the countries involved. It is the construction of a new generation of infrastructure, not for limited access but for general use, that provides a substantial solution to the planetary challenge of drug production.

"Essentially, the world today faces the necessity of abandoning sick neoliberal economics, which breeds inequality and makes the Earth a narcotics zone, and of shifting to a new socioeconomic development model, which would realize the UN-recognized right to development and social progress. The viewpoint I have stated here coincides with the position of Prime Minister, now the President-elect of Russia, Vladimir Putin."

(For a full report on the Ivanov initiatives, see the upcoming issue of EIR magazine)