Andrey Rylkov Foundation
for Health and Social Justice

Action alert! Call for solidarity with Russian drug policy activist Irina Teplinskaya!

The Russian drug policy activist Irina Teplinskaya had a tablet of methadone planted on her as she recently re-entered Russia.

This incident happened on the 18th of August 2011, at the Khrabrovo Airport in Kaliningrad in the Russian Federation, as she was was returning home following three months of rehabilitation in Ukraine. Irina is a public advocate for Russian drug users’ health rights in Russian and international courts, and in the UN.

Now, Irina stands accused of drug smuggling.

Irina was the first person in Russia not ashamed to speak openly about what it’s like to be a drug user in Russia, and to call for drug users’ rights to be respected. In addition to written complaints and appeals, in February 2011 Irina met with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and spoke about the lack of access to any opioid substition therapy in Russia. Methadone, an opioid substitute, is on the List of WHO Essential Medicines as the main pharmacological treatment for people suffering opioid dependence.

Irina has been unafraid to openly show her face in the media, despite the very negative attitudes of the FSKN (Russian Federal Drug Control Service). For example, in the summer of 2009, when an NGO wished to start an HIV prevention program among drug users in Kaliningrad, the FSKN threatened the organisation with criminal liability. After Irina referred this issue to the UN, the FSKN persistently invited her to “meetings”. Importantly, Irina was never subpoenaed to appear in court or charged with any offence. There was in fact no legal basis for the FSKN’s threats.

Irina has consistently fought for her health rights in a civilised manner through the courts, basing her arguments both on the the Russian Constitution and international agreements. Her opponents have been unable to find any effective legal arguments to challenge her. Instead, they simply planted methadone on her as she re-entered Russia. Now she faces a potential prison term of three to seven years.

Planting drugs, provocations, and presenting false witnesses have become routine practices for Russian law enforcement agencies.As a rule, judges ignore any evidence presented in defence of the accused. Anyone can become a victim of these actions. Any one of us in Russia.

There is a growing list of activists considered objectionable that have been silenced through the planting of drugs by law enforcement agencies in Russia. These include artists, human rights and social activists including Artyem Loskutov, Denis Matveev, Taisia Osipova, Valentin Urusov. There are many more cases like these. Only one case has not resulted in imprisonment – Artyem Loskutov. In his case, he was fined, despite all circumstances pointing to his innocence.

Now, we mustn’t remain indifferent to this example of arbitrary use of force. It is only through open exchange of information, and public support that will ensure Irina receives a fair hearing.

Please support Irina Teplinskaya! Please distribute this information!
You can follow Irina’s progress on and take part in further actions to support Irina.


Irina’s life story can be found here:

A shortened version of the speech given by Irina Teplinskaya at the International Harm Reduction Conference in Beirut (April 2011).

Human Rights for Russian drug addicts: I will not be silenced!


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