Struggle, Prosecution & Falsification – All About Drugs - 26 February, 2003

A new stage of the struggle against drug spreading has started in Russia. A special briefing was held in Russia’s Ministry for Internal Affairs on February 20, where Deputy Chief of the investigation department of the Interior Ministry Committee of Inquiry, Justice Colonel Yury Alekseyev delivered a report. He said that 94 tons of illegal drugs were arrested in Russia in 2002. Over the past ten years the number of crimes connected with  drug trafficking increased 11 times; there were 189.676 crimes connected with drugs in Russia in 2002. The share of criminal cases connected with drug trafficking made up 13% - 16.5% of the total amount of instituted criminal proceedings. In the words of Yury Alekseyev, the scale of crimes connected with drug distribution is increasing every year. What must the Russian Ministry for Internal Affairs do to improve the situation?   

It was suggested at the briefing that it was necessary to introduce criminal responsibility for drug usage. At present, a packet of documents designed to toughen criminal responsibility for illegal drug circulation is being considered in the State Duma. At that, the Committee of Inquiry suggests that a clause must be introduced into the RF Criminal Code to oblige drug addicts to undergo obligatory narcological treatment. At that, it is suggested that the clause #228 of the RF Criminal Code, that currently provides for criminal responsibility for purchase and sale of drugs, must be divided into two parts, each of them will separately provide for criminal responsibility for purchase and sale of drugs. It is said that criminal responsibility for sale of drugs must be toughened up to extreme penalty.

Observers commented upon the suggestion and said that responsibility for drug usage already existed: the norm was already fixed in the law on circulation of drugs and psychotropic substances several years ago. And the RF Criminal Code in force provides for compulsory medical treatment of drug addicts after a court sentence is issued. So, nothing new was suggested at the briefing, with the exception of the suggestion to introduce criminal responsibility for drug usage. Doctors, scientists and public figures immediately objected to this measure.

Head of the department for clinical research in the Narcology Institute, Vladimir Altschuler said in an interview to Russia’s radio Echo Moskvy that if the suggestion is realized, this may cause quite an opposite effect. Drug addicts won’t be able to appeal for medical aid legally. He says that introduction of criminal responsibility for usage of drugs will drive people suffering from drug addiction into underground. The professor says that if criminal responsibility for drug usage is introduced, people will not appeal for medical aid as they will have to admit they are consumers of drugs and in this case they can be brought into criminal account. He is sure, such people are no criminals, they are diseased people.

The problem of drug spreading in Russia is actually very serious. As it was stated at the briefing in the RF Ministry for Internal Affairs, over 50% of all drugs are delivered to Russia from abroad, about 90% of heroin come from Afghanistan and Tajikistan. At present, the drug market in Russia is oriented at the hardest drugs, at heroin and opium. Recently, prices for these drugs almost doubled. The RF Ministry for Internal Affairs discovered two ways of import of synthetic drugs from the Baltic countries. 

The situation in regions bordering Tajikistan is especially alarming: drugs, heroin first of all, arrive there from Afghanistan. Regional representative of the UN Department for drugs and crime in Central Asia, Antonella Deldela thinks that the volume of drug traffic is increasing because much drug remains in those countries through which the transit goes. The expert says that drug inflow from Afghanistan to Russia will considerably increase this year as the crop of narcotic plants in Afghanistan was very rich in 2002.

However, drugs from Russia go not only to Europe, but also to South-eastern Asia countries, and Russia’s Far East is used as a transfer point at that. The 8th Asia-Pacific conference against drugs was held in Tokyo on February 4-7. It was stated at the conference that hard drugs, mainly heroin, go from Central Asia and Afghanistan through the ports of Primorye to Japan and Korea.

A special state committee for counteraction to illegal drug trafficking was created to operate on the territory of the Russian-Belarus union state. According to the information provided by the committee, 186 crimes connected with transport, storage and sale of drugs were registered on the territory of the Russian Federation within the past week. There were also some international and interregional crimes. 207 people were detained in connection with the crimes connected with drugs, 31 of them are foreigners.

On February 20, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Russia and Belarus made a decision to hold a joint investigation of the level of drugs spreading on the territory of the union state. Russian Minister for Internal Affairs Boris Gryzlov charged the committee with organization of joint work with Belarus colleagues.

The situation with drug spreading in Russia is alarming. Here are just few examples. Last week a skirmish broke out between drug dealers and policemen inthe Krasnodar region, not far from the city of Tuapse. Six people were killed as a result of the skirmish, four of them were policemen. Another group of drug dealers was captured in the Plesetsk space center in the Arkhangelsk region. As it turned out, the network for drug spreading was organized by several officers of the space center.

It is often that drugs are fabricated like any other goods. It is reported that fabricated heroin was delivered from Afghanistan. Sometimes substance sold as pure heroin turns out to be pounded pills of an antimalarial medicine that is abundant in Afghanistan. Even experts can mix up the medicine with heroin by its color and bitter taste. At best, there are only 5-10% of pure heroin in substances that drug dealers sell as heroin. Drug dealers often add powdered sugar, lactose, caffeine and analgin to heroin. Drug addicts usually buy falsifications instead of heroin. Unfortunately, statistics provide no information concerning the problem whether usage of falsified drugs reduces the number of drug addicts.

MiK new agency

Author`s name Michael Simpson