Andrey Rylkov Foundation
for Health and Social Justice

St. Petersburg activist speaks about Russian drug policy

On June 26, the Global Commission on Drug Policy presented its report, The War On Drugs And HIV/AIDS – How The Criminalisation Of Drug Use Fuels The Global Pandemic, at a press conference in London, UK. Participants in the press conference included Michel Kazatchkine, formerly of the Global Fund; Ruth Dreyfuss, a Swiss policymaker; and other speakers, among them Maria Yakovleva from Foundation Svecha and female network E.V.A. in St. Petersburg.

Maria told her story of drug use, treatment and rehabilitation, noting that low-threshold services remain inaccessible in Russia. She said, “What is offered to drug users [in Russia]? Mostly prison. But some are “lucky”: the government provides them with free detox. It’s the only program available to all drug users. What if you are pregnant? It’s not possible for pregnant women to even enter detox. Rehab centers are also off-limits for women with children; loss of parental rights is an option. So, a woman faces the choice of treatment or her baby.”

According to the Guardian, the report “condemns “the remarkable failure of drug law enforcement policies” in cutting the world drug supply”. It praises “countries where “addiction is treated as a health issue” such as Australia, Portugal and Switzerland, where newly diagnosed HIV infections have been nearly eliminated among drug users”, and criticizes such countries as “America, China, Russia and Thailand, which have “ignored scientific evidence and resisted the implementation of evidence-based HIV prevention programmes – with devastating consequences.”

Sources: mailing list, the Global Commission on Drug Policy, the Guardian, (recording of the press conference)

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