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Articles - International & national drug policy
Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 18 December 1990 00:00

Drug Policy in the USSR

The Soviet Constitution, despite the numerous amendments that have been, and The Soviet Constitution, despite the numerous amendments that have been, and amendments

The Soviet Constitution, despite the numerous amendments that have been, and are being, introduced during the sessions of the main ruling body of the USSR, the Supreme Soviet, remains basically unchanged since the Constitution adopted during the so-called ‘stagnation period’ of the Brezhnev reactionary regime (1964-82). It is based on plain statements of the rights and freedoms of the Homo Sovieticus. For instance, one of the articles states: "Every Soviet citizen has the right to work." This is to say, it contains, as most Constitutions do, quite indistinct statements and definitions.

This ambiguity has been subject to interpretation by the Soviet authorities and is sometimes used to their own advantage. But it is neither the Constitution, nor even the Criminal Codes of the Union Republics, that actually form the drug policy of the Soviet leadership as a whole. In reality, it is composed of vectors of a quite different character, namely of those formed by the ‘nomenklatura’ power - an oligarchic body of bureaucrats who enjoy quite arbitrary privileges. It can come as no surprise to anyone that its main interest lies in perpetuating these privileges.

In 1976, the Chairman of the Standing Commit-tee on Drugs of the Ministry of Health of the USSR, Eduard A. Babajan, stated that there were approximately 2,000 people in the USSR who use drugs on a regular basis. According to him, these were Second World War invalids who had become addicted as a result of treatment for wounds received during the war.

It was also Babajan who, as a ‘representative of Soviet psychiatrists’ at the UN, said that no one in the USSR was committed to mental asylums for ‘treatment’ on the basis of their beliefs (New Times, 1978, 1980). However, it is now common knowledge that thousands of people were forced to go through this type of ‘therapy’ under Khruschev and Brezhnev.

The fact that Babajan is still Chairman of the USSR Committee on Drugs is quite significant and shows that, regardless of general political changes, the Soviet leadership’s policy towards illicit drugs has not changed in the slightest.

In an interview with Victor Rezunkov, Mr Babajan made himself absolutely clear by stating that drug legalisation would be ‘a real defeat in the fight against drugs’. He went on to say that he thought it was necessary to apply ‘extreme measures’ to everybody who was involved in drugs, regardless of whet were a user, an addict or a dealer.

This attitude, exacerbated by the experience of the anti-alcohol campaign waged by Mikhail Gorbachov in 1985-86, has given rise to extreme reactions against drug users, particularly addicts, in the USSR. During 1986 87, our prisons were overcrowded with drug users, while the Soviet mass media I portrayed them as serious criminals, ready to rob and k, ill.

These ‘extreme measures’ brought about a series of consequences. First, the price of drugs soared com-pared to pre-1985 prices, sometimes by as much as 10 15 times, resulting in a significant rise in drug-related, often violent, acquisitive crimes. These measures also affected the mortality rate among young people, particularly those without the means to buy such over-priced drugs, who resorted to cheaper, more dangerous substitutes. On top of this, thousands of people, from addicts to those arrested for the mere possession of a small quantity of marijuana, were convicted and imprisoned. Once inside the Soviet penal system, these drug users were forced to associate with ‘real’ criminals and, having absorbed criminal influences in forced labour camps, many later became involved in criminal activity.

Of course, we cannot ignore the possibility that the ‘nomenklatura’ leadership responsible for drug policy in this country is, to some extent, open to bribery. So, on the one hand, we have a real adherence to combat drugs being announced, whilst, on the other, it usually takes no more than five minutes to buy drugs on the free (kolkhoz) markets of Leningrad, Moscow or other big cities. The drug normally being sold is an extract of opium with its morphine part turned into heroin with vinegar anhydrite.

The financial turnover of one of the most important drug markets, ‘Cheriomushinskiy rynok’ (located in the area of Moscow called Cheriomushky - hence the name; ‘rynok’ means a market place), is estimated to be approximately 30-50 million roubles a month.

The police and the KGB (which has recently announced that its new field of activity is the fight against ‘organised crime’, mainly the narco mafia), who normally operate on the orders of the ‘nomenklatura’, do not seem particularly interested in drugs being sold openly and injected in broad daylight.

Drug dealers we have spoken to in Moscow admitted that, in order to continue trading, they have to pay around 50-60 thousand roubles a month to the enforcement officers. This corruption is so blatant that it is obvious that the police must bribe their superiors as well. We can only guess where this money goes afterwards but, knowing the situation in this country, it is easy to make a correct supposition.

Apart from anecdotal information, evidence of this type of corruption has appeared in the official press. According to the Pravda newspaper (23.01.90)2 ‘the criminal activity of those who worked on the General Consulate of the USSR in Afghanistan has now been stopped’. The world famous daily newspaper gave precise information about the drug dealing activity among some of the high ranking diplomatic officials who used to work in the cities of Kabul and Masar-i-Sharif. Nonetheless, two of the most influential diplomats who had been engaged in these illegal transactions were not brought to trial - they were merely dismissed from their jobs. ‘How long will people like former Consul General Melushin and former Consul Babkin be allowed to continue to get away with it ?’, asked the newspaper.

Another official newspaper, Isvesua, has published information on corruption among the police in Central Asia. An article on 11.2.90, tells of the ‘unhealthy situation’ within the Regional Police Department in the city of Chardjow in Tukmenia. Those policemen who had tried to fight against the local narco-mafia were dismissed on the orders of their chiefs under any possible, insignificant pretexts. The paper also claims to have information on close connections between the Turkmenian narco-mafia and the Communist Party bosses in Chardjow.

These reports demonstrate that while, on the one hand, there is an ostentatious commitment to drugs policy in this country, on the other, there is corruption among those responsible for implementing it.

PUBLIC OPINION

With the instigation of glastnost in 1985, the official media, which has the strongest influence in this society, began to discuss the subject of drugs openly for the first time since the 1920s. At the same time, a campaign was started against alcohol and drug consumption, targeted mostly against consumers. The press, still working on the orders from the top, began

their own crusade against addicts. An addict -any drug user is considered to be an ‘addict’ in this country - was denounced as a criminal, capable of acting violently in case he needs money to buy drugs (the newspaper Trud 28.09.19893). In the streets of the cities posters appeared, calling ‘to eliminate the junkies as roaches’, and claiming that an addict is ‘always ready to lie, cheat and deceive you in the meanest way’ if you are not vigilant (Presman, 1989)4. Quite obviously, this brought about a less than tolerant attitude towards drug users.

However, in the past year there have appeared quite /a few decent articles on Soviet drug problems in the official press. This has come about for two main reasons. Firstly, some journalists have been able to write more freely as a result of the broad political changes that have taken place (Presman, 1989)5 and, secondly, to the emergence of Initiative Groups of former drug users (Sociological Studies, 1989)¢. These groups are pushing for the creation of some sort of network of social and medical help for addicts and, in some cases, even call for drug legalisation.

In this respect, a role has been played by the newly created Moscow bureau of the Transnational Radical Party TRP) and the International Anti-prohibitionist League, under whose auspices the Moscow Conference on Anti-prohibitionism was held in April 1990. At this conference a number of key figures in the international drug policy reform movement spoke, including Professor Arnold Trebach, President of the Drug Policy Foundation in Washington, Lorenco Strik-Livers, senator of the Italian Parliament, and Marinq Bouzdakino, a member of the Federal Council of the TRP.

t a result of this conference, The Literary Gazett›, one of the most widely read newspapers in the USSR, published a major article on the question of drug policy (Galayeva, 1990)7. This was the first time an official media journalist wrote of the necessity of drug legalisation in the Soviet Union as the only way out of the critical drug policy situation. The nine focal points in favour of legalisation, which had been adopted at the Brussels Congress of TRP in September 1988, were also mentioned.

However, in an attempt to negate this positive discussion, a whole series of articles also appeared in the official press, which continued to portray users as criminals or aliens rather than people in need of help (Soviet Sport, 1989; Komsomolslya Pravda, 1989)9.

These articles also strongly attacked the TRP and journalists who sympathise with the arguments for legalisation (Soviet Youth, 1990)’

All this, however, generated more public interest in the subject and, as a result, led to further discussion in the non-official press and activated more informal Initiative Groups. The war of words continued but, as a result of the official propaganda, the majority of the population developed a quite negative, if not antagonistic, attitude towards drug users and, in particular, drug dealers.

Despite this, we still hope that some deep changes in the political situation in this country will bring about the possibility of change in Soviet drug policy as well.

DRUG POLICY IN THE REPUBLICS OF THE USSR

To provide a general description of the drug policy in each of the Union Republics of the USSR is not an easy task at the moment, for several reasons, but first, because of the dynamic, and sometimes quite unexpected, developments in the political situation that often occur nowadays in the Union and in the Autonomous Republics and Autonomous Regions of the USSR. Most of the Republics and Autonomous Regions have declared themselves sovereign states, which will surely lead to some changes as regards the law on drugs and drug policy in a more general sense. It has been announced in most of the new sovereign republics that new Criminal Codes will be adopted soon.

Secondly, there are differences, although usually not major, which still exist in the Criminal Codes of the different Union Republics for illegal possession, transportation or dealing in drugs.

For example, in the Republic of Georgia drug possession is punished by either up to two years’ confinement or an administrative punishment under which the prisoner’s head is shaved, and he is forced to clean the streets (Gabiani, 1990)". For the same offence in the Ukraine, however, where there had been no punishment for drug use at all until 1987, the penalty is up to one year in prison. The punishment for possession in the Republics of Latvia and Lithuania is also comparatively lax, usually no more than one year’s imprisonment.

Finally, it is useful to consider the diverse traditions of drugs consumption in the various republics of the Soviet Union. In most of the Central Asian Republics (excluding Kirgizia) opium has been used for centuries in popular medicine. Whilst there is no cultural tradition of drug use in the Ukraine, the large government plantations of poppy and cannabis there have provoked widespread drug use in recent years.

The variety of climatic conditions in the soviet Union also plays an important role, both his historically and culturally. For example, in the sunny Chuskaia Valley of Kazakhstan, nearly a million hectares of land are covered with wild Cannabis sativa and the level of consumption here is extremely high. In Estonia, however, the same plant can also be found but due to the cold climate the psychoactive properties are minimal. For this reason the level of use in Estonia is much lower, with the majority of cannabis used there being imported from other regions, making it less available and more expensive.

‘TREATMENT’ IN THE USSR

Those who are imprisoned for trading or possession of drugs are forced to go through a special treatment programme under Article 62 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation or the corresl2onding articles of the Criminal Codes of the Union Republics. Because of the lack of specialists, ‘narcologists’, for this treatment the ‘narco-prisoners’ are normally localised in each republic in one or two labour camps, known as ‘Narco-zones’, with the exception of the Russian Federation - the biggest Republic - where there are many more ‘zones’ of this type.

It is obvious that this kind of forced ‘treatment’ is quite ineffective. For instance, in one of the narcozones in Russia (RSFSR), which is located close to the town of Andrepol in the Tver Region, the treatment is performed with vitamins and Phitine, a substance which stimulates the flow of oxygen to the brain. In other zones, especially in the Ukraine where there are two labour camps of this type - U85/8 at Simpheropol and 313/17 at Kharkov - they use such substance as Sulfazine, Galopidol, fluphenazine hydrochloride (Moditen Depot) and insulin, for shock therapy.

Apart from these ‘narco zones’, every Republic of the USSR also has one or two LTP centres. These are labour treatment camps, known as ‘prophylactoria’, whose purpose is to prevent the further use of drugs.

In spite of this distinction, there is effectively no difference between these LTP centres and the ‘narcozones’ described above.

The total number of ‘narco-zones’ in the Soviet Union is guarded as an official secret, but estimates suggest that there are around twenty of them. The average number of prisoners at each of these is at least 500 people. If we add those detained in the LTP system (about 200 each), the total number of ‘narco prisoners’ in the Soviet Union should be between 13 and 15 thousand. This figure is quite inaccurate, as a more realistic estimate would reveal a substantially higher number, especially when we consider that repeat offenders are often detained in other camps with stricter conditions. What confuses matters even more, is that anyone who has been convicted of a drugs charge in the past, will automatically be placed in a ‘narco-zone’ on subsequent conviction, regardless the nature of the crime.

The conditions of detention in a ‘zone’, a Preliminary Detention Prison or a Psychiatric Clinic, either for those who have been sentenced according to the Criminal Codes of the Union Republics or for those going through forced treatment, is harsh. The right to anonymous, voluntary treatment does not exist.

These places lack elementary medical assistance and the sanitary conditions of the cells and the wards, where ‘narco-prisoners’ are kept together with rapists, murderers, alcoholics and the mentally ill, are extremely poor.

Here is an example of the conditions of detention of a 22-year-old man, Valery Plotnikov, who was sent to one of the General Regime ‘narco-zones’ (Day after Day, 1989)’9. Methods of repressive medicine were used for his forced treatment from 1986 to 1989, which included: ‘SHIZO’ (a special cell with extreme conditions of detention), the use of a strait jacket, Sulfazine, Moditen-Depot, and shock therapy. After this treatment, a patient cannot walk or eat without

assistance for several months.

And what crime prompted this extreme intervention? The prisoner had been accused of possession of 40 grams of ground poppy heads.

THE SOVIET PENAL CAMP SYSTEM

Those convicted for the first time for a minor offence such as drugs possession, are placed in what is called a ‘General Regime Camp’ (obschiy riezhim). First offenders convicted of a more serious offence, for example, drug dealing, are detained in a ‘Stricter Regime Camp’. Repeat offenders are moved up the tariff. Those previously detained in the General Regirne camps are placed in a Strict Regime Camp, repeat offenders previously detained in the Stricter Regime Camps are taken to the Special Regime Camps where conditions are extremely harsh and where most convicts are known to be professional or dangerous criminals.

This is a more or less general overview of the camp system in the Soviet Union for anybody sentenced to camp labour. The system of ‘narco-zones’ is part of the whole system of labour camps. It should be also borne in mind that there are no rigid rules as-to which person goes to which type of ‘zone’. We know of cases where dealers sentenced to a long period of confinement have been kept in the General Regime camps.

In our calculations we can only include the numbers (those detained in the General Regime and the LTP camps. Unfortunately, information on ‘narco-prisoners’ in other types of camps is not available to the public. What we do know, however, is that for every three General Regime camps there is approximately one Stricter Regime and one Special Regime camp. Therefore, on a very rough estimate, there may be as ,many as 10,000 more ‘narco prisoners’. The most severe system of repression against drug users and dealers in the republics can be found in Georgia. During the 1970s, a campaign was initiated by the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Georgia, Eduard Shevarnadze. At that time the Government of the Republic adopted a series of repressive Decrees and Resolutions and, in 1978, a computerized register of those who had been involved with drugs in any way was set up in Georgia. This was the first register of its kind in the Soviet Union (Gabiani,1990)’2.

Despite all of these apparently committed l attempts to stop drug trafficking in the Soviet Union, the general situation on the drugs market remains the same. The only thing which has actually changed is the price which, as previously stated, has increased by 10-15 times.

The trafficking routes, for instance, have not changed at all. The most important areas of marijuana and opium production are the Central Asian republics, the Far East, the Ukraine and Byelorussia (White Russia). These areas, which have high levels of drug consumption, supply most of the big cities, such as Leningrad and Moscow which are the main centres of drug use. As well as this, there have appeared a number of underground chemical laboratories producing synthetic drugs in the Central Regions of the country (Kriminalnaya Khronika, 1990; Golodoska)’3.

The worrying growth in consumption of these impure, unprofessionally prepared substances is one of he consequences of the repressive campaign carried out by those who determine the drug policy in this country. The further development of all these trends is quite alarming - if ever the trouble becomes convertible, illicit drugs will flood the country from abroad and drug producers from the poppy and cannabis growing regions of the USSR will, in turn, try to reach international markets for their drug sales.

DRUGS AND THE LAW

Legislation against drugs goes back to post-revolution Russia when, in 1922, the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation included, on the orders of the Council of People’s Commissars of the Russian Federation, article No. 140-d, which introduced the criminalisation of drug production, possession with the intention to traffic and trafficking itself. This was later included in the first Decree of the Soviet Power (22.12,1924), which covers the whole of the Soviet Union.

Another Criminal Code of the RSFSR, adopted in 1926 in article No.104 for drug production, possession with the intention to traffic and trafficking itself, suggested imprisonment for up to one year or corrective labour for the same period, as punishment. For the same offence carried out on a bigger scale, the suggested penalty was up to three years imprisonment. Drug possession without intention to traffic and the personal use of drugs, warranted no penalty at that time. The development of Soviet legislation in the sphere of drug offences since that point has resulted in increasing use of penal sanctions for such crimes.

In this light, we should mention the Decree issued on 25.04.1974 by the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, under the title ‘On Re-enforcement of the Fight Against Drug Addiction’, the articles of which were reproduced in all Criminal Codes of the Union Republics. This Decree not only brought additional penalties for producing, obtaining, possession, transportation, and the sending of narcotic drugs with the intention to traffic, but for the first time penalties were introduced for similar actions without the intention to traffic (Art. 224, parts 111 & IV of the Criminal Codes of the RSFSR) and for ‘seducing another person to narcotic drugs’ (224-2, Cr Code, RSFSR). Additional penalties were also introduced for theft of narcotic substances (224-1, Cr Code, RSFSR).

Earlier punishment for drug use had been stated , in the Criminal Codes of only a few Republics 15, ‘ but another Decree, issued on 22.¢.1987 by the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, extended the punishment for drug use to all the Republics.

According to this decree, a conviction for drug use within a year of the application of an administrative punishment (50-100 rouble fine and/or 10tl5 days of administrative arrest) for the same violation of law, as well as illegal obtaining or possession of narcotic substances in small quantities without the intention to traffic recorded twice by the authorities within a year, is liable to a punishment of up to two years’ imprisonment or correction labour for the same period 16 (4.3). The term ‘narcotic substances’ in the Criminal Code refers to all drugs listed by UN Conventions.

In our opinion, the adoption of the Decree of 22.¢.1987 is indicative of the Soviet authorities’ resignation to their complete inability to solve drug. problems in a constructive and humane way.

We possess some preliminary information on the expected changes in the drug laws, shared with us by Sergei Lebedev, the Chairman of the Association of Independent Advocates in Leningrad. According to him, the new Criminal Code which is soon to be adopted in Russia, will not only keep the notorious Article 224 (which covers illegal possession, transportation and dissemination of narcotic drugs), but may also add another article seeking penalisation for toxicomania (inhaling the vapour of glues, acetone, gasoline, etc., substances which are not in the lists of the WHO). Coerced treatment will also be applied to those found guilty of this ‘crime’. In other words, article 62 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation will be applied if a special doctor’s commission of the Ministry of Internal Affairs decides that drug users ought to be ‘cured’.

This warning, as well as information received from some confidential sources on the expected new wave of reprisals against addicts, indicates that Soviet drug policy is moving towards even more severe harassment of drug users.

Recently, Soviet drug policy has aroused numerous protests from lawyers, sociologists, narcologists and other specialists. The existing system of drug control was severely criticised by the members of a scientific conference held in the town of Brest (Byelorussia), in September 1988, under the motto ‘For Healthy Living"4. In his speech, Sergei Lebedev denounced the Soviet system of dealing with drug addiction by stating:

‘Within the system of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR, special divisions were created to fight drugs in 1963. Before 1985, their work had not been very successful. In 1985 these divisions were reinforced and the Central leadership paid quite a lot of attention to their work. But, until now, these groups have had rather poor material and technical supplies and would mostly act on orders coming from above. These orders demanded an increase in the number of cases brought to trial, the amount of those sentenced to criminal and administrative penalties, the quantity of drugs seized and the number of those directed to the LTP.’ 4 Within the system of the Ministry of Health of the USSR, there is a special Narcological Service which specialises in the problems of alcohol and tobacco addiction, but not drug addiction. In the largest regions of the country one can hardly find a dozen specialists who would be engaged in the treatment of drug addicts. Only a few cities of the Soviet Union have small clinics (10-15 patients) where addicts can come voluntarily. All these people are kept together, like those who have been in prison, and not separated into marijuana users and junkies, beginners and old users, etc. All this does not help the process of treatment. Although medical institutes and some laboratories do some research into drug use, they are fat away from any practical implementation of it.

The country still lacks any type of social service for the problems of drug addiction. The problems connected to drug use are not going to be solved in the USSR in the near future, and by the year 2000 the level of drug addiction will go higher, in comparison with the level of alcoholism’7 (4.4).

Despite the ratification by the Supreme Soviet on 14.12.1965 of Article 17 of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (1961) demanding the centralisation and coordination of the activities of internal state bodies and suggesting that every country should have a special department responsible for addressing the problems of drug addiction, the Soviet Union, according to Sergei Lebedev, does not have a coordinating institution. Thus, the USSR violates the above mentioned UN Conventions’ø (4.5).

THE CRIMINAL CODE ARTICLES

To give a better idea of the Criminal Legislation of the USSR regarding drugs, we list the Articles of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, where the degree of punishment for drugs handling is stated. The definitions of the corresponding Articles in the Criminal Codes of the Union Republics do not differ from the Russian ones listed below. Still, there are differences in the severity of punishment, varying from one Republic to another. Article 224, part I, of the Criminal Code of the USSR determines that illegal production, obtaining, possession, transportation, sale or sending of narcotic substances with the intention to sell, requires a punishment of up to 10 years’ imprisonment. Part II defines penalties for the same actions carried out under aggravated circumstances, such as a repeated offence or conspiracy, and on conviction requires from 6 to 15 years’ imprisonment plus confiscation of property.

Article 224, part III determines that production, obtaining, possession, transportation or sending of narcotic substances without the intention to sell, requires punishment of up to three years’ imprisonment. Part IV determines penalisation for the same actions carried out under aggravated circumstances, i.e. repeated conviction, the theft of narcotic substances, the planting and growing of drug containing plants, and organisation or keeping of dens for drug consumption. In this case, imprisonment for up to five years of may be required.

Article 224-1 determines the penalties for theft of narcotic substances and requires imprisonment for up to 5 years with or without confiscation of property. Under aggravated circumstances this is increased to imprisonment for 7-15 years with confiscation of property.

Article 224-2 defines the penalties for seducing another person to use narcotic substances and requires up to five years’ imprisonment .

Article 226-1 determines punishment for organisation and keeping of dens for drug use. The Criminal Code of the Russian Federation and the corresponding Articles of the Criminal Codes of the Union Republics determine that the required punishment for this crime should be from 5 to 10 years’ imprisonment with or without confiscation of property.

And, finally, Article 225 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation determines penalties for planting and growing drug containing plants, an offence which warrants punishment of up to five years of imprisonment (Gabiani, 1990)2ø.

INITIATIVE GROUPS

Despite the very grave, repressive circumstances under which drug users exist in the USSR, there are those who are attempting to redress the balance. Even though there are no officially registered initiative groups of addicts in the Soviet Union, these groups do exist, albeit without the consent of the authorities.

The first group of this kind, according to our information, was initiated in May 1987 in Leningrad. It had about 20 members, and was called ‘Oasis’. The central idea was to create a rural commune for former junkies.

A year later, the leader of the group, Aleksey Lopukhin, was arrested for possession of amphetamine and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment. Repressive action was also carried out against other members of this group, after which it broke up and today, no longer exists (The Kazan Cathedral, 1989)2’.

Another group was also founded in the city of Leningrad, in 1988, and was called ‘The Revival’. More than 50 people were involved, attempting to reduce drug dependence and hoping to find a solution in mutual support. They also wanted to help former addicts morally and socially and to draw attention to the alarming situation of Soviet drug policy22 (¢.2). In 1989, the activists of this group wrote an appeal to the deputies of the Leningrad City Council, in which they criticised the existing system of dealing with drugs in the USSR23 (¢.3). Nowadays, this group is not very active because the authorities, far from cooperating, hinder it in every possible way.

In 1989 in Moscow, an Antiprohibitionist Com mittee was created within the Russian Buro of the TRP, called RAMS ( an abbreviation meaning the ‘Russian Association for Peace and Freedom’). This Committee, supported by the TRP, used their own newspaper called Golodovka (The Hungerstrike)24 (¢.4) to publish material on antiprohibitionism and criticised the existing narcotics policy in the USSR.

By the beginning of 1990 the Russian Buro of the TRP disbanded. Some of the former RAMS members created the Libertarian Party which has carried out actions in defence of the rights of homosexuals and prostitutes in Russia.

At around the same time, two former members of RAMS, Victor Rezunkov and Alexander Denissov, created another group which was called ‘For Immediate Legalisation’ (FIL) which has ten members25 (¢.5). The group’s aim is to create an Information Bureau to support and coordinate activities of other groups whose aimed at humanising and normalising USSR drug policy. With the rapidly changing political situation in Russia we hope that it may be possible to influence drug policy from the lowest level.

There is presently much speculation in Moscow, that a special Centre on Drugs is soon to be created by the Union Government. If they manage to employ new people and find all the needed specialists, it could play a very important role in forming the drug policy of this country. In this respect, the FIL and its aim of coordinating all the efforts of the Initiatives Groups in the Soviet Union could play a crucial role26

Another group, alarmed at the drug situation in this country, is ‘Narco help’ and it was created in February of 1989 in Leningrad.

The aims of this group are:

1. Setting up of charitably financed rehabilitation communes for drug addicts with the help of the church.

2. Establishing mutual support networks among drug users in an attempt reduce drug problems. 3. Cooperating and exchanging information with all groups and private individuals in other countries who are engaged in reducing drug problems27 (¢.7).

Most of these groups support the idea of drug legalisation and consider it the only way of normalising drug policy within the USSR. This, the growing antiprohibitionism among parts of the population and the activities of the informal groups point to the necessity of establishing an Information Centre, which would coordinate the actions of all people of goodwill who favour drug policy normalisation in this country.

These pages were written before the demise of the USSR

NOTES

‘ New Times (Russian version) Nr 2, 1978, p. 20 and New Tlmes (Russian version) nr 16, 1980, p 28.

2 See also the Russian newspaper Trud 29.09.89 the

article about suicides by V. Svirin. And Pravda 23.01.90.

3 Newspaper Trud 28.09.89.

4 See below.

5 Russian magazine Sociological Studies nr 5, 1989; anticle called Drug Addiction from the point of view of a sociologist, by A Presman.

¢ ¢ Sociological Studies nr 2, 1989. A round table discussion under the title ‘The consequences of the period of stagnation’.

7 Russian newspaper Literary gazette (Literaturnaya qazeta), 05.09.90, nr 36 p.12 the article ‘Drugs? eere you are .... ! by A. Galayeva.

8 dbid.

9 Russian newspaper Soviet Sport, 27.07.89; Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, 26.09.89.

‘ø The Latvian newspaper in the Russian language called Soviet Youth, 02.03.90, Riga.

" A A Gabiani 1990 On the Edge of an Abyss. The Drugs and the Addicts, Moscow, Mysl Publishing House, p.170-179. ibid, p. 142-143.

13 Local Leningradin newspaper called The Criminal Chronicles (Kriminalnaya Khronika), Leningrad, nr 1, 1990, p.5 The newspaper of the Moscow Buro of the TRP Golodovka (the hunger strike), nr 2 (November,December).

14 Materials of the Scientific Conference ‘For Healthy Living’, Brest, September 1988, p.21.

15ibid.

16 ibid.

17 ibid, p.18.

18 ibid.

19 Local Moscow newspaper Day after Day, nr ¢, 1989, p 12 13.

20 see A A Gabiani, ‘On the Edge of the Abyss’, p.170-179.

21’ Local Leningradian magazine called The Kazan Cathedral, Leningrad, nr ¢, 1989, p.5 19, article called The Case of Aleksei Lopakhin.

22 Private archive of V Rezunkov. An appeal to the People’s Deputies of the Leningrad City Soviet.

23 The revival Group (Vorozhdenie) room 32, 83, Bol-shoy prospect, V.O. 199026 Leningrad, USSR.

24 Golodovka newspaper (The hunger strike) nrs 1,2, 1989, Moscow.

25 Private archive of V Rezunkov. The address of the FIL group to concerned organisations.

26 ibid

27 Narco,help 1/29, Narvskiy prospect, Leningrad.

 

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