They have been linked to corruption, violence, civil war, rape and murder.
But this week Moscow announced it wanted an end to an international embargo on ‘blood’ diamonds exported from the Central African Republic (CAR).
According to most estimates, more than 90 per cent of CAR’s diamonds end up being exported anyway – via the black market.
On Tuesday, Alexei Moiseyev, Russia’s deputy finance minister, said it was time to recognise the ban was not working and to legalise the diamond trade in its entirety.
“The current bans are unfair to poor people who can only earn a wage (this way),” he said. “Practically all diamonds end up on the world market as contraband … with earnings being used by criminals.”
But activists argue the official Russian position is dishonest. They say Moscow is instead interested in cashing in on the trade, noting that actors with close ties to the Kremlin stand ready to benefit from a relaxation of the rules.
“If you are saying you need to lift the ban because it is failing, it’s the wrong idea for the wrong reason,” said Brad Brooks-Rubin of the Enough Project, a non-governmental organisation focused on anti-corruption efforts in the region…
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