Narcotics use is wreaking havoc in Russia, responsible for 30,000 annual deaths and 200 new HIV infections every day. But Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin is letting knee-jerk hostility toward the United States cloud its response to the drug-trafficking crisis.
Russia has made a sudden shift when it comes to combatting narcotics trafficking in Afghanistan. For years, Russian officials saw US involvement in Central Asia as a greater national security threat than Afghan drugs.
Russia and Kazakhstan seem headed for a showdown over rocket launches at the Baikonur cosmodrome. Although Moscow and Astana are trying to downplay their differences, both sides seem ready to play hardball in what could be complicated and protracted negotiations.
Anyone who’s traveled in the vast open spaces of Central Asia has heard it, or seen it plastered on roadside monuments punctuating long stretches of highway: Ak Jol in Kazakh and Kyrgyz and Oq Yol in Uzbek. “White Road.” It means something like “safe journey” or “have a good trip.”
The anticorruption group Transparency International (TI) says high levels of bribery, abuse of power, and secret dealings continue to “ravage” societies around the world, despite a growing public outcry over corrupt governments.
When 18-year-old Fatima Musabayeva from southern Kazakhstan was offered a job at a Moscow supermarket, she jumped at the chance. Her mother had died when she was 10, and when her father passed away in 2006, Fatima and her 17-year-old sister were left to fend for themselves.