27 July 2012
On July 27, Togliatti NGO Project April and the city’s human rights activists will make public the situation of drug user Ivan Anoshkin. Who, according to his lawyer Alexey Sibalakov, “appealed to the Ministry of Health of Samara Region requesting treatment, and the next day he was arrested for drug possession on fabricated evidence”.
Tatiana Kochetkova, Project April’s coordinator of work with drug users, coordinator of a working group on management of patients with a double-triple diagnosis (HIV/TB/injecting drug use) explains: “Ivan Anoshkin is a drug user with with 18 years of experience and officially diagnosed. He first tried drugs at age 14 and was drug-dependent by 16. When he started a family and his son was born, Ivan decided to seek treatment. He repeatedly entered detoxification and rehabilitation at various institutions. However, drug dependency is a complex, chronic disease, and Ivan has relapsed over and over again.”
Ivan Anoshkin said in an interview last year: “It so happened that almost all my life I’ve been using drugs. The first time I tried drugs at age 14, and now I’m 31. I have been tried four times: three times for theft, once for drug use. First it was opium, then heroin, and in recent years, when heroin was removed from the city’s drug market, I began to use homemade desomorphine. It is several times more toxic than heroin. Twice I was treated in a drug treatment clinic. Both times I resumed drug use two hours after leaving the hospital. In 1998 I was diagnosed with HIV, and before with hepatitis C. But that did not stop me, and neither did imprisonment. Even in prison, I continued to use drugs.”
Tatiana Kochetkova continues: “In 2010, Ivan almost died from the effects of desomorphine. After which he became more active in finding ways for effective treatment. Studying others’ treament experience, he learned that all other developed countries, as well as in 12 countries of the former Soviet Union, use substitution therapy (the use of opioids in therapeutic doses). In Russia, this treatment is prohibited by law.
In 2011, Ivan Anoshkin appealed to the UN with a complaint against Russia as a country that does not provide a substitution therapy. At the same time he continued his attempts at treatment using the methods allowed in Russia. However, after treatment, he relapsed again and again. In desperation, on April 11, 2012, he wrote a letter to the Ministry of Health of Samara region asking to provide him with substitution therapy.
The next day, April 12, he was arrested on the basis of Part 1 of Art. 228 of the Criminal Code “Storage of narcotic substances without intent to supply.” However, Ivan Anoshkin insists that he had no drugs on him. He admits that he had an empty syringe with a drug already consumed. A syringe with desomorphine was planted on him by police officers after the arrest.
After the arrest of Ivan Anoshkin, he was held in police custody for more than 30 hours without any paperwork. According to Ivan, the police beat him. Immediately after leaving the precinct, he went to the emergency room, where doctors recorded numerous bruises and abrasions on his hands and feet. In connection with the beating Ivan Anoshkin filed a complaint with the city of Togliatti’s prosecutor regarding his illegal detention and beatings by police officers.
At the present time Ivan Anoshkin’s case rests with Togliatti Central District Court, and initial sessions have been held.
According to public organizations engaged in social support of people who are vulnerable to HIV infection and of those already living with HIV, “HIV infected people and drug dependent people are often perceived by society as inferior citizens. The rights of these people are often violated only due to the fact of their HIV status or the fact of the use of drugs.
It is widely believed that drug users are monsters ready to kill their own mothers, wishing only to shoot up and commit crimes, indifferent to the needs of raising children, to love, or to work. But real-life stories speak to the contrary, as does the example of Ivan Anoshkin – a vivid example that is not unique.”
Social activists and human rights activists would like to give wide publicity to the story of Ivan Anoshkin not just in order to protect the rights of a particular drug user, but also to help build a tolerant public opinion.
Categories: Drug policy in Russia, Voices from Russia | Tags: access to treatment, Anoshkin, desomorphine, human rights violation, personal stories, Togliatti | 1 comment »