Almost 150,000 people convicted for drug-related crimes in Russia - drug control chief

Thousands of people have been convicted for drug-related crimes in Russia, Director of the Russian Federal Drug Control Service, Viktor Ivanov, said in an interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper published on Monday.

"We don't have criminal responsibility for drug use. Currently, 147,000 people are convicted for drug-related crimes. As for drug addicts, around a million users are detected in a year, including 200,000 in night clubs and discos," Ivanov was quoted as saying.

Ivanov said that the drug service analysis has shown that 90% of all street crimes were committed by drug addicts.

The drug service director said that the law was currently "slowly but nevertheless evolving". "Around ten anti-drug laws have been passed recently to advance in the issue of establishing a network of rehabilitation centers for drug users," Ivanov said.

Ivanov said that the task was to give an addict the legal choice: "He either faces at least a year in prison. Or he voluntarily says in court: I don't want punishment, I choose treatment. This is officially recorded. If he breaks the conditions of the deal, then see the first article - go to jail. This is important. Judicial ways remind the addict: he has punishment waiting for him if he doesn't keep his word."

Russia has around 500 special rehabilitation centers for drug users, Ivanov said.

"The Russian Orthodox Church alone has around 50. But they function thanks to the enthusiasm of volunteers. It's necessary to open thousands of such public centers. But it's necessary that treatment and rehabilitation of addicts are held there in accordance with certain standards, that centers are under the patronage of our service or the Health Ministry. And centers, which achieve certain success in treating drug addiction, should be awarded grants," Ivanov said.

Another issue is that rehabilitation centers "are outside the state regulations," the drug service director said.

All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

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