Andrey Rylkov Foundation
for Health and Social Justice

Andrey Rylkov Foundation web-site banned by the Federal Drug Control Service for “propaganda” of WHO-recommended drug treatment with methadone

06.02.2012, Moscow

The website of the Andrey Rylkov Foundation for Health and Social Justice (ARF) was blocked on Friday, 3 February 2012 by order of the Federal Drug Control Services (FDCS) “due to placement of materials which propagandize (advertise) use of drugs, information about distribution, purchasing of drugs and inciting to use of drugs”.

Anya Sarang, President of ARF, commented: “This is not the first case of governmental pressure and it seems that the authorities started a campaign against us. At the end of last year, I received a call from the Department of Economic Security and Counteraction of Corruption of the Ministry of the Interior of Russia who informed us that they were staring an investigation of our activities upon a complaint they received about our involvement with “propaganda about methadone”, and later in January received a similar notice from the Public Prosecutor’s office“.

The Andrey Rylkov Foundation’s mission is to promote humane drug policies based on tolerance and the protection of health, dignity and human rights in Russia. Besides providing direct services to people who use drugs, the organization advocates for human rights-oriented and scientifically-based drug policies, including the introduction of internationally-recognized, evidence-based opioid substitution treatment that is currently banned by Russian law. In pursuit of this aim, ARF communicates with UN Human Rights Bodies, the European Court of Human Rights, national courts and top Russian authorities, including the Russian President, Parliament, Prime Minister, Ombudsman, the Ministry of Health and FDCS.

The FDCS gave no precise information about what they categorized as “drug propaganda” by ARF, but it seems most likely that FDCS does not like ARF’s library on substitution treatment, including WHO guidelines and other internationally available information on opioid substitution treatment (OST). Since 2009, Russian law enforcement agencies have been mandated by the State Security Council – and later by the President – to enforce the ban on propaganda of substitution treatment of drug addiction.

The 1998 Russian Law On narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances defines drug propaganda very broadly. Literally, anything containing the word “drug” may be interpreted as drug propaganda. FDCS uses this poorly drafted law for intimidation and censorship. Since its creation in 2003, FDCS is known for banning different forms of art, including books, films and paintings.

ARF is a small young non-governmental organization that can’t afford an office and doesn’t get any support from the state. But it has managed to become visible because of its important lifesaving activities. The only way people could know about this organization was the web-site.

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