President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues.
We are here today to discuss one of the most serious and sensitive problems we face, an issue that we address regularly. I am referring to making our efforts to combat drug-related crime more effective. Everyone realises that this has direct consequences for the lives and health of a large number of our people and also, we could say, for Russia’s national security.
Over these past years, although many problems still remain, we have managed to bring about a certain decrease in drug use and reduce youth mortality, including drug-related deaths. This is important. If we look at the 15–34 age group, mortality has dropped by 30 percent for this group over 2005–2014.
I particularly note the National Anti-Drug Strategy until 2020, which was adopted five years ago. This document essentially became our blueprint for fighting the drug threat and has helped consolidate state and civil society efforts to resolve this problem.
At the same time however, the situation with drug use in Russia is still problematic. Attempts continue to spread drugs throughout our regions, including heroin coming in from Afghanistan. Unfortunately, we are forced to say that our partners currently present in Afghanistan have not been willing to pursue active cooperation in this area.
We face a new and serious threat in the form of synthetic cannabis, the so-called Spice, coming in from Europe and Southeast Asia. In this respect, I want to draw your attention to a number of priority tasks.
First, given that most of the so-called hard drugs are coming in from abroad, we need to bolster the fieldwork not just by the Federal Drug Control Service, but also by the Federal Security Service and the Border Guard. Everyone working on the border must step up their efforts to stop drug trafficking.
We must take additional measures to prevent distribution of drugs using the internet, and the use of the media environment to lure new victims into drug use, especially among young people.
Second, practice shows that successfully combating the drug threat depends on close cooperation with the relevant services in other countries and with international organisations. Much indeed depends on ongoing exchange of information and work experience and, when needed, on carrying out joint operations and information campaigns.
I note that a number of international drug control events have taken place at Russia’s initiative. The Federal Drug Control Service must work actively together with international organisations to organise cooperation in preventing drug use and combating drug trafficking. You should use all influential international platforms for this, above all the UN, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the BRICS group and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation.
You must reach a consolidated position in preparation for the UN General Assembly’s special session on drugs, which will take place in spring next year. It is important to focus the international community’s efforts on liquidating the global heroin and cocaine production centres and at the same time take measures to facilitate socioeconomic development in countries whose citizens are forced by poverty into this criminal business.
Of course, in our day-to-day work we must also take into account the fact that a number of countries have launched a real campaign to legalise certain types of so-called soft drugs. There is no question that we oppose this approach and we need to be more active in promoting our arguments at all international forums.
Third, we need to work more effectively with those who have only just begun taking drugs. What is most important here is not punitive measures, but an effective system of prevention, treatment and rehabilitation.
There must be a greater targeted effort conducted through the media, youth and volunteer organisations to get our society to say no to drug use.
I note too that our country is one of the few in the world to have a healthcare system with its own specialised drug treatment service. Of course, we must maintain this service and make sure the latest treatment technologies are available. On January 1, 2015 we had 98 drug treatment and prevention centres operating around the country, 10 drug treatment hospitals, and 2,082 outpatient drug treatment clinics.
We must resolve the problem of freeing people from drug addiction, but medical measures alone are not sufficient here. Medical assistance must be followed up with social rehabilitation programmes to help people return to a full and normal life.
Before 1994, if you recall, it was the occupational therapy centres that dealt with these matters. They were part of the Interior Ministry system at that time. Up to 500,000 people suffering from alcohol and drug addiction passed through their walls each year. This system was not ideal, of course. It was forced upon people and we remember its many problems. It would be a mistake to attempt to copy it or revive it in its old form. But at the same time, we do need to revive the social rehabilitation system, on a new basis now and using modern approaches, but we do need to revive it.
Civil society groups are addressing this task in part today through privately run rehabilitation centres. There are more than 500 such organisations around the country today. I think that we should include them in the national system of comprehensive rehabilitation and re-socialisation of drug users that we are developing.
The instruction to establish this system was given following a State Council Presidium meeting back in April 2011. But it has still not been decided exactly which federal executive agency will be responsible for the legal regulation, control and oversight of comprehensive rehabilitation of drug users. We also still do not have the resources earmarked for the state programme for setting up this national system.
Let’s discuss this matter today. I am aware of the discussions between the Federal Drug Control Service and the Finance Ministry on this subject. Of course, without money, we cannot do anything, but it would also be wrong to make money available without first knowing where exactly it is going. We need a plan and a proposed system of work in this area.
Let me add in this respect that many regions have already built up successful experience in rehabilitating drug users, and we should summarise this experience and put it to active use. This is one of the key tasks for this presidium meeting today.
Let’s begin work.
Vladimir Putin: Colleagues,
There is no need for me to speak of the importance of this subject we have met to discuss. It is not by chance that we come back to it on a regular basis. This is a very serious problem. Most of us here today remember that the Soviet Union did not have a problem of this scale and seriousness. Internal and external borders have vanished, and this has brought much that is good, but it has also brought this serious problem that we have been discussing today and that we now need to resolve.
We realise that this is a complex issue that is related to the general healthcare situation, people’s incomes overall, general living standards, development of culture and education, and also the rehabilitation aspect that we have been talking about today. Of course, all of this is also related to our budget’s financing possibilities.
I will not repeat now all that has just been said here. I just want to say thank you to all of you for taking a more informal approach to the discussion, and I want to thank the State Council Presidium for coming back to this issue once more.
We made a conscious decision to address this issue, even though the Government only recently just approved the programme in this area. But we will keep revisiting this issue to see what is happening, how the programme is working, and what we need to do to make it work.
Of course, one way or another, we must allocate the resources for resolving this problem. Just relying on the people who are voluntarily engaged in this work is not enough and will not solve the problem. At the same time, we also need to improve the law enforcement component, and so the Federal Drug Control Service and the Interior Ministry need to step up their work. Overall, as you all realise, this a complex problem that requires a comprehensive approach.
We had already drawn up a draft list of instructions. During today’s discussions, issues came up that, for better or for worse, were not reflected on this list. It is good that we have had this discussion today because now these issues will be taken into account too and the instructions will go back for further work.
I ask the State Council Presidium, the relevant people in the Presidential Executive Office, and the Government to work with those present here today to formulate the provisions in such a way as to ensure that everything can be implemented realistically and that this programme will begin work.
Thank you very much.