Vice Squad
Tuesday, February 10, 2004
From the Land of the (Drug) Czars....

Friend of Vice Squad Bridget Butkevich directs our attention to an item from the February 6 RFE/RL [Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] Newsline, Russia, which I will reproduce in full below (including both transliterations of Federov!) It seems that they don't make czars like they used to: this drug czar thinks that it is a bad idea to punish drug users.

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 24, Part I, 6 February 2004

Viktor Cherkesov, chairman of the State Antidrug Committee (GNK), said on 5 February that he opposes criminal charges for drug abuse, Interfax reported. "I view that negatively," he told a press conference in Novosibirsk. "People who use narcotics often become a threat to society and commit crimes, [but] because of their condition they are not aware of their actions," Cherkesov said. "Drug addiction is an illness." Those who sell narcotics should be prosecuted, Cherkesov said, adding that drug abusers are responsible for 30 percent-40 percent of all thefts and robberies. GNK Deputy Chairman Aleksandr Fedorov told journalists in Moscow on 5 February that between 2.5 million and 4 million Russians, most of them under 30 years old, have used drugs, Interfax reported. There are fewer than 500,000 officially registered addicts in Russia, he added. Federov said the biggest problem areas are large cities in regions that are along trafficking routes from Afghanistan and areas where cannabis is grown, particularly in the Far East and Siberia. JB

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