Here is an excerpt-summary of Glenn Curtis' article, entitled, "Nations Hospitable to Organized Crime and Terrorism." Curtis confirms my own observations during a recent visit to Ekatrinburg, Russia--the largest of all the cities in the Russian Caucaus region, where I saw hypodermic needles scattered about on the main street. The problem has spread to Moscow as well, where there is a hidden HIV epidemic that USAID is doing their best to help stem. Because of its geographic position between the major narcotics producing region of the Golden Crescent (Afghanistan and Pakistan) and the major narcotics markets in Russia and Europe, the Caucasus region has become an important narcotics corridor. Furthermore, corruption, general weakness of post-Soviet law enforcement agencies, facilitates lawlessness in this region. Each state is reviewed below:
• Dept of State has identified Armenia as a source state for trafficking of women.
• No laws exist against such trafficking and no plans to makes laws.
• Despite its location and poor funding for anti-narcotics enforcement, Armenia has minimized narcotics trafficking by closing the borders with Azerbaijan and Turkey.
• Corruption, poor law enforcement and insufficient legislation are a serious problem and real crackdowns on these elements are essential to Armenia’s stability, security and control of organized and transnational crime.
• Azerbaijan has suffered significant increases in narcotics traffic and domestic addition in recent years – has accused Armenia of fostering traffic into country from Iran.
• The long struggle with Armenia over Hagorno-Karabakh has impeded law enforcement over a wide area of the country.
• Thousands of refugees have been generated and are easy targets for human trafficking and centers for transnational crimes.
• Has significant institutional weakness which promotes transnational criminals.
• Has insufficient legislation and institutional capacity for detection and prevention of transnational criminals.
• Drug business is very widespread. Its location as a corridor of drug trafficking and the weak regional government can do nothing to control it.
• Corruption is the foundation on which public management and economic relations are built. Despite universal recognition of the problem, very little has been done by the national government to control corruption. As a result, narcotics’ trafficking goes unchecked.
Summary: This large, sparsely populated area of the former USSR has favorable conditions for terrorist bases and intense narcotic trafficking. Basing and funding are two elements that can contribute to significant instability in the region and spill over to international problems.