Magazine article Newsweek International

Viktor Ivanov: Moscow's Terror Fighter

Magazine article Newsweek International

Viktor Ivanov: Moscow's Terror Fighter

Article excerpt

Viktor Ivanov is one of Russia's leading Siloviki, a group of ex-KGB officers close to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Since 2008 he's been a senior member of Russia's National Antiterror Committee. He also heads Russia's Federal Service for the Control of Narcotics, where he's focused on breaking the links between the heroin trade and Islamic insurgencies in Russia and Central Asia. Ivanov spoke to NEWSWEEK's Anna Nemtsova in Moscow. Excerpts:

Will there be a crackdown in the North Caucasus in the wake of last week's terror attacks in Moscow and Dagestan?

Naturally. But it is also necessary to make changes in the system. The fact that such attacks happen in Russia proves that the conditions that fuel [them] haven't been eradicated. First, the state has to strengthen its borders. Increased controls would allow us to filter all the dangerous persons and goods.

What exactly do you suggest?

A tighter border regime does not mean we should isolate ourselves with a Great Wall of China. I am talking about stricter regulations and more vigilance. But of course the biggest part of it is curbing drug traffic. Russia has the highest drug traffic in the world. That's a serious danger for our security.

Are you saying that terrorism and drug traffic are related?

I have no doubts that drug traffic feeds terrorism in Russia. Huge amounts of illegal money flow to radical groups from the drug trade. At a recent meeting of the Security Council in Mineralniye Vody [in the North Caucasus], we saw reports that the drug traffic coming to Dagestan has increased by 20 times over the last year. That is what fuels terrorism, because terrorists buy their communication equipment and weapons with drug money.

Did you talk about Al Qaeda involvement?

Yes, we did.

You just got back from a NATO meeting in Brussels to discuss security cooperation. …

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