Drug trade in Russia and measures taken by the Russian authorities to circumscribe the problem [RUS32874.E]

A 2 July 1999 IPS report states that human rights groups have denounced the excessive powers contained in recent laws "to search and detain suspected dealers and consumers" as well as "police abuse" in the application of those laws. According to the report, the Russian territory is increasingly being used to channel drugs produced in Central Asia to western countries and quotes "experts" as saying that:

Central Asian states are becoming a new Golden Triangle to rival that of Myanmar, Thailand and Laos, or the Golden Crescent of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The report also states that Russia had sought international assistance and was hoping to conclude an agreement with the United Nations to receive training and equipment to fight drug trafficking within its borders. However, despite "new repressive laws," enforcement agencies have complained that financial resources were lacking and that there was no "clear legal framework" to regulate the confiscation of illegal drug earnings (ibid.). The report also quotes human rights groups as saying that more than a year after the drug law was adopted, the police had used it as a tool to increase the number of arrests in order to improve their crime solving record and they did not hesitate to jail casual drug users.

According to a 29 June 1999 Interfax report,

"steps aimed at fighting drug trafficking" were approved the same day at a meeting of the Russian Security Council. The report quotes Vladimir Putin, then Director General of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and Chairman of the Security Council, as saying that "The Public Health Ministry, the State Customs Committee and security and defence agencies will be engaged in fighting it ... [and that] the state must concentrate on fighting drug manufacturers and dealers rather than addicts."

In December 1998, Russian president Boris Yeltsin ordered his government to create a "federal extrabudgetary fund" to counter illegal drug trafficking, to reinforce existing laws and adopt new ones to "regulate the crackdown" on drug traffickers, to sign treaties enabling the extradition of "persons found guilty of committing drug related crimes" and to draft "a program of measures" to prevent drug addiction among the youth (RIA News Agency 29 Dec. 1998).

A November 1998 Rossiyskaya Gazeta report quotes Major General Aleksandr Sergeyev, chief of the Russian Federation Ministry of Internal Affairs Administration on Illegal Trafficking in Narcotics and Psychotropic Subtances:

Russia participates in the world drug business primarily as a consumer...In 1980 there were 300,000 individuals regularly using in Russia, and there 7,000 crimes in this sphere. In 1990, these figures were 1 million individuals and 30,000 crimes. Today the figures are 2 million and about 200,000 crimes, respectively. According to expert evaluations, the annual illegal turnover of drugs in monetary terms amounts to $1.5 billion...Drug addiction is becoming a national threat.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


Interfax [Moscow, in English]. 29 June 1999. "Russia: Putin on Approved Steps to Fight Drugs Trade." (FBIS-SOV-1999-0629 29 June 1999/WNC)

Inter Press Service (IPS). 2 July 1999. Sergei Blagov. "Heath-Rights: Russia Losing War Against Hard Drugs." (NEXIS)

RIA News Agency [Moscow, in English]. 29 December 1998. "Russia: Yeltsin Orders Government to Crack Down on Drug Trafficking." (BBC Summary 29 Dec. 1998/NEXIS)

Rossiyskaya Gazeta [Moscow, in Russian]. 30 October 1998. "Russia: MVD General: 'National Threat' From Drugs." (FBIS-SOV-98-313 9 Nov. 1998/WNC)