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Bolivia to buy Russia’s copters to fight drug trafficking

Defence Minister Ruben Saavedra said that Bolivia needs Mi-17 copters especially after the US announced it shut down the Bolivia Anti-Drug Office

BUENOS AIRES, July 8 (Itar-Tass) - Bolivia plans to buy Russia’s two Mi-17 helicopters to fight drug trafficking, Bolivian Defence Minister Ruben Saavedra said on Sunday.

Within the upcoming 30 days Russia’s governmental commission will visit Bolivia to discuss issues related to the purchase of helicopters, he said.

Bolivia especially needs helicopters after the United States announced it shut down the Bolivia Anti-Drug Office, Saavedra said.

Bolivia together with Colombia and Peru is on the list of the world’s largest cocaine producers. At the same time coca growing within the set limits is not considered a crime, as coca leaves are traditionally used as a stimulant that appeases hunger, gives strength and improves well-being of residents in the highlands.

Under the Latin American country’s new constitution adopted during a referendum back in January 2009 coca leaves are Bolivia’s cultural heritage.