Former KGB Officer Accuses Vladimir Putin of Running Drug Smuggling Ring

By McCarton Ackerman 03/18/15

Yuri Shvets obviously forgot about what happened to the last person to call out Putin.

Vladimir Putin

A former KGB officer has unleashed shocking claims against Russian president Vladimir Putin, accusing him of running a drug smuggling ring in the country during the 1990s.

Yuri Shvets, who was providing testimony at the inquiry into the death of Alexander Litvinenko, accused Putin and long-time ally Victor Ivanov of helping run the drug smuggling and money laundering ring out of St. Petersburg. He claimed that Putin was “directly involved in a company that was laundering drugs from Colombia." He also claimed that Putin was linked to notorious St. Petersburg gang Tambovskaya during this time and used his political power to protect Ivanov while he engaged in criminal activity. Ironically, Ivanov is now the head of Russia’s narcotics agency.

Shvets’ sources include the late Litvinenko, Ukranian security services and an anonymous person who reportedly was “sufficiently close to Ivanov to have been his assistant.” Neither Putin or Ivanov have commented on his testimony.

Russia has been dealing with a drug crisis under Putin and Ivanov's watch for years. A 2013 report from the Federal Drug Control Service of the Russian Federation (FSKN) stated that roughly 8.5 million Russian citizens are addicted to drugs, with 70,000 drug-related deaths occurring each year. Russia is also the largest consumer of heroin in the world, spending roughly $6 billion per year on it.

Ivanov claimed that drug-related deaths had ceased and more Russians were voluntarily seeking treatment. But Anya Sarang, president of the Andrei Ryikov Foundation for Health and Social Justice, a drug addiction awareness group, said that Ivanov’s numbers were “chosen at random. There is no research to prove what he is saying.”

Even those who seek treatment in Russia have few viable options. Only a handful of state-run centers have been established in the country, while private clinics are often priced well beyond the means of the average citizen. Several of these clinics have also been accused of physical abuse and over-reliance on anti-psychotic medication like Haloperidol, a drug commonly used to treat schizophrenia.

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix

McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.