Addiction in Russia: Draconian punishments instead of help

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Million Russians are addicted to drugs. Instead of informing the authorities hunting addicts. A non-governmental organization is trying to help.

The cold hits the human face, the flow of the evening from the Moscow metro. From the city centre it is a three quarter hour drive to Marino. Here, in the most populous district of the Russian capital, extend solitary plate buildings in the darkness.

Close to the metro station, parked a Minibus at the roadside. “FAR” is in Cyrillic letters on the hood. A man goes limp in the back. There are boxes of books filled with syringes, medicines and disinfectants.

“Vanya!”, worker Maxim welcomes him socially. “What’s new?” Vanya smiles in the shadow of his cap. “Do you have clean syringes?”, he asks. Maxim begins to pack hygiene items in a bag.

The Minibus of the FAR, the “Andrei-Rylkow Foundation for health and social justice belongs to”. The non-governmental organization that advocates for drug addicts and sex workers in Russia. Every Tuesday for the FAR-Bus stops here in Marino. Every day he is in another part of town and is one of the few focal points of this type in Moscow. The aim of the Rylkow Foundation is to create such offers of help.

Vanya is one of more than five million drug addicts Russians. “I’ve been coming here for years for the FAR-Bus. The people do not meet only their duty. You are interested in me and help me out. If I have to go to the hospital or to a ID need to: I get support.”

FAR Bus in Moscow-Marino: Every day in another part of the city

His face darkened. “From the state, I can’t say the same thing. In front of the people there, I have to keep my eye on you.” Once a COP had stopped him, and a small amount of drugs found. Four years Vanya for it went to jail.

Up to 15 years in prison

To blanket an area the Problem of drugs in Russia were first after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Because of the open borders poison out of Production first came to noise strongholds such as Afghanistan EN masse into the country. In the 1990s, a Russian drug mafia was born. The Russian society was not prepared for it. Because awareness and control were lacking, lapsed, many people are Looking for.

The policy responded with a hardness on the rapid spread of drug use in Russia. From the consumer’s criminals were. Even today, drugs are treated addicts as Sick people, but as a Criminal. While the authorities fight the organised drug trade in a little police after the addicts. Up to 15 years in jail people who are caught with a few grams of drugs threaten.

Due to Russia’s draconian drug legislation. Clause 228 of the penal code regulates the acquisition, possession, distribution, manufacture, production and processing of drugs. Because 200,000 people and thus, every third prisoner in Russia is due to drug possession in prison, he is also called the “People section”.

“The drug policy of Russia is extremely repressive,” says social worker Maxim. The state drive is a Zero-tolerance policy. “Many politicians and Russians also believe that a more open drug policy is bad. They are convinced that education and the distribution of clean syringes led to more people taking drugs.”

Social worker Maxim with a colleague: “Extremely repressive drug policy”

Because the state does not distribute free, clean needles, or condoms for HIV prevention, care, non-governmental organizations, such as the Rylkow Foundation for it. “However, the small number of aid organisations that are active in this field does not cover, by Far the most demand,” says Maxim.

Despite resistance, no reforms

Instead of helping, the police needs tough legislation, often for their own purposes. In order to meet quotas for the salary allowances, would police officers hunt drug addicts. In some cases they were also Innocent drugs cheat. Many of these cases remain undocumented. “Once arrested, the people in the criminal register”, – commented Maxim. After that, everything is harder. To get a driver’s license. To find a job. Many remain in the drug swamp. Because the incentives to change one’s own life, there are hardly any.

The headlines of the “People’s clause”, as this summer, the Journalist Ivan Golunow was arrested, caused a stir. The police imputed to him falsely, to carry drugs in his backpack, and to operate in his apartment with a drug lab. As the case became public, it came to protests. Not only the Opposition, even parts of the Russian power elite, and criticized the actions of the investigating authorities. After the wave of public indignation, the case was closed and Golunow released from prison. In spite of this Case and the reactions from the society, the policy has not relented. The Russian Parliament a Reform of drug para-financial support of the Landgrave refused recently.

A homemade HIV-Epidemic

On the Bus, the Rylkow Foundation workers Maxim sufficient social its visitors Vanya his bag: “Here you have Your syringe. I Packed you a bandage for your ulcer on the leg in.” Maxim has been working for years at the Foundation. Most of the visitors to the bus to greet him by name. “I was for many years addicted to drugs and I am HIV-positive,” he says. Many social workers in the organization were once addicted to drugs. “The fact that we have the same experiences, we can put ourselves into empathetic in the life situation of the people.”

Maxim part disappears for a few minutes with a bearded man at the front of the car. There, he conducts HIV and Hepatitis rapid tests. As visitors come out, he jumps to his waiting girlfriend in the arms and calls out: “I live! The Test was negative.”

Noise Fund in Moscow (in January): Mass drug Production poison strongholds such as Afghanistan

The Tests are important, because Russia is affected by one of the largest HIV epidemics. In the global Trend, the number of new infections are among decreases. In Russia it has been increasing since 2012. More than one percent of all Russians are infected with the Aids virus. Experts suspect a higher number of unreported cases. The Virus spreads mainly through unprotected sex and multiple use of syringes in drug use. Are not only a threat to drug addicts, sex workers and homosexual men. Because so little is being done to combat, many people now risk for Contracting the disease.

The crisis is home-made, because the policy denies the Problem. In society, the topic is a taboo. Enlightenment, it is only on the Internet or through the few non-governmental organizations that still exist. Not-advertise on the basis of the law against “Propaganda of traditional relations”, i.e. the ban on “homosexuality” and “Anti-drug propaganda laws” is not a social debate.

The Andrei-Rylkow Foundation has been a victim of these schemes. A Moscow court sentenced the organization a year ago because of “drug Propaganda” to a penalty of the equivalent of 11,000 euros. Reason: In a Newsletter of the Foundation was informed about the extremely addictive drug mephedrone, which is widely used currently growing rapidly in Russia. As the organization threatened due to payment difficulties, the closure, she had to start a call for donations to raise money for the penalty payment can be put together.

It will be late. On the street it is empty. Maxim adopted, and to power the bus. The car accelerates and disappears into the darkness. The group of help-seekers dissolves again. Some go home, others in search of the next Kick.