Andrey Rylkov Foundation
for Health and Social Justice

ARF Open letter to Mr. Ivanov – head of Russian Federal Drug Control Services

Attn.: Victor Ivanov
Director of the Federal Drug Control Service
From Anya Sarang
The Andrey Rylkov Foundation for Health and Social Justice
17-82 Marshall Biryuzov St.,
Moscow, Russia 123060
Tel.: +7-926-155-8799





2 April 2012

Dear Mr. Ivanov,

On 3 February 2012, the Moscow Directorate of the Federal Drug Control Service has shut down the website of the Andrey Rylkov Foundation for Health and Social Justice: In the letter sent to Mastername, our domain provider, on behalf of Vladimir Davydov, Head of the Moscow FDCS Directorate, it was stated that the website was closed because ‘it contained materials promoting drug use’. The website contained publications on human rights, drug policies, health issues and scientific evidence – including those related to substitution treatment as a method of drug treatment – which is supposed to be open access information.

OST has been successfully introduced in more than 60 countries, including USA, Canada, China, Iran and all European countries, except for Russia and Turkey[1]. Opioid substitution therapy has been recommended by the UN General Assembly and the Commission on Narcotic Drugs[2], and by the International Narcotics Control Board[3]. We have started litigation on the issue of the unfounded closure of our website, which, however, is not the reason behind this appeal.

On 12 March 2012, at a press conference held by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna, you were asked about the reasons for banning our website. You stated the following: ‘This website was part of programmes that distributed methadone as a method of substitution treatment. According to governmental regulations, methadone is not legal in Russia, which means that the website was involved in distribution of an illegal narcotic substance. We informed the internet services provider, and the provider made a lawful decision to shut down the website. […] Closing websites involved in the sales of illegal drugs is common practice in all civilized countries.’

We assume that you either had not been fully informed about the situation when you made this statement, or it was delivered through some kind of mistake. Of course, our website didn’t distribute methadone. You have accused us of a very serious crime, which damaged our reputation, especially since your statement was made at a major international forum. Now we are trying to respond to numerous questions from colleagues, including those from other countries, which we find difficult to answer, not knowing how a person holding a major post could voice this unfounded accusation at such a level. Your statement discredits us as a human rights organisation working in the field of public health.

To shed light on the situation, we suggest to hold a joint press conference, whereby the Federal Drug Control Service could highlight their position about substitution therapy, and we could share our views on the importance of public debate on the issue that we tried to scale up through our website. It is also essential for us that you deflect the mistaken accusation that implies a criminal charge. If you agree, please suggest the time and location for a press conference.


Anya Sarang,

President of the Andrey Rylkov Foundation for Health and Social Justice, Moscow

The mission of the Andrey Rylkov Foundation is to promote humane drug policies based on tolerance and the protection of health, dignity and human rights in Russia. Along with providing direct support to people who use drugs and people with drug addiction, the Foundation advocates for evidence-based drug policy focused on the principles of human rights.


[1] Комплект карт о распространении программ профилактики ВИЧ инфекции среди потребителей инъекционных наркотиков в мире. УНП ООН. 2009 год.


[2] See paragraph 20 of the Political Declaration on International Cooperation towards an Integrated and Balanced Strategy to Counter the World Drug Problem, adopted on the 52nd session of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs; see also Resolution 53/9 adopted by CND on the 53rd session in March 2010.


[3] INCB Report for 2008, paragraphs 24, 25.

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