President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, good afternoon.
Today we will discuss the main ways to improve the state antidrug policy. This topic is definitely extremely complex, embraces many aspects and directly affects national security. I will say even more – without any exaggeration, it affects the future of our people.
Drugs cripple and kill thousands of Russians every year. They bring suffering to children, and young people in general, bring pain and grief to families, and undermine the moral foundations of society. The shadow profits from the drug business are used as financial support for criminals, for cross-border crime, corruption, terrorist and extremist groups. It is a challenge that Russia and practically all other countries are facing.
I would like to note right away that over the past ten years, the implementation of the Russian State Antidrug Policy Strategy has enabled us to take a number of important steps in the fight against the drug threat. Thus, punishment for the sale and smuggling of drugs or their analogues, the punishment for the distribution of drugs online, in educational institutions, and crowded social venues has been increased drastically, up to life imprisonment.
A fundamentally new legal mechanism for encouraging drug addicts to get treatment and rehabilitation has been added to the legal framework. In the last three years alone, over 85 percent of pupils in schools, students in technical colleges, and universities – a total of more than 6 million people – have been tested for drug addiction through social and psychological evaluation.
Largely due to the measures taken, over the course of 10 years the number of officially registered drug users has decreased by more than a quarter: from 673,000 to 478,000, including that of underage users from 7,900 to 5,100. Over the same period, the number of drug crimes decreased by 17 percent, and the number of drug intoxicated criminals dropped by 30 percent.
At the same time, these numbers should not be a reason for complacency. Both drug business and drug use are covert and latent. Analytical materials prepared for our meeting show that the situation remains complicated.
For example, over the first nine months of this year law enforcement agencies detected over 144,500 drug crimes, which is almost equal to the numbers from the same period last year (145,000). Almost 18 tonnes of narcotic and psychotropic substances were confiscated.
Our task is to improve efforts to counter drug trafficking and take more concerted and decisive action on all fronts. This must be the goal of the new Russian State Antidrug Policy Strategy until 2030. We will discuss the draft today.
Of course, continuing the tough uncompromising fight waged by law enforcement agencies and special services against drug dealers is a priority area. Here, results and numbers must be significantly higher than those we have today. This is why I would like to elaborate on these matters. We always discuss this at annual expanded meetings of corresponding agencies.
As I have said, today I would also like to draw your attention to several important points.
First, we can see that criminals increasingly use modern means of communication to sell drugs, while in the supply and distribution schemes, they use contactless payment methods and new non-bank forms of payment more actively. This means there is no need for personal contact between the seller and the buyer. By doing so, criminals try to hide their activities as much as possible.
These trends have further aggravated this year, in conditions of the pandemic and restrictions on socialising. Thus, in the first half of this year, the number of discovered, recorded crimes alone has grown by almost 70 percent. This example shows how modern technology is being used for evil purposes rather than for the good of the people.
Apparently, it is necessary to look for new, more effective ways of countering such latent crimes. Relevant departments of the Ministry of the Interior and the Federal Security Service must enhance their cooperation with Rosfinmonitoring [Federal Financial Monitoring Service] as well as with other agencies.
Secondly, practically all the state borders have been closed this year due to the pandemic. As a consequence of this, during the first half of 2020 drug trafficking into Russia went down by more than a third. This was a blessing in disguise, as they say. But obviously, with the restoration of interstate communications (which is inevitable), attempts to build up drug supplies from other countries will be resumed. This means that now it is time to think over and take additional measures on enhancing border and customs control.
Thirdly, we have said that drug addiction is a misfortune, a serious, hard-to-treat disorder. It is impossible to overcome it in one go. Therefore, it is important to improve the system of rendering medical aid to drug addicts, continue supplying drug-abuse clinics with modern equipment, strengthening their personnel potential and introducing advanced methods of revealing the disorder at early stages when help is timely and most effective.
Fourthly, it is necessary to determine finally a federal body or bodies that are responsible for the social rehabilitation of drug addicts, and formulate uniform requirements in this area for the whole country. Incidentally, the regions have not done this up to now either. The discussion on this subject continues and de facto responsibility is often shifted by some departments to others. All this work has been dragged out for no objective reasons.
In addition to this, it is necessary to enhance control over the activities of private rehabilitation clinics in the regions. In some cases, they flagrantly violate the constitutional rights of our citizens. This problem must be resolved by all means and without delay.
I would also like to highlight the fact that certain Russian region heads often delegate to other officials their assigned powers as chairs of anti-drug commissions. This practice – colleagues, pay attention to this please – which is in fact an attempt to hide behind someone else's back, is absolutely unacceptable.
I would like to remind you once again that coordinating all anti-drug activities is the regional heads’ individual, personal responsibility. And I am requesting the plenipotentiary representatives of the President of Russia in the federal districts to monitor this issue constantly.
Fifth is the expansion and implementation of a modern antidrug awareness policy, including the media, the social media that are popular with young people, and at educational institutions. We need to inform people about this deadly trap that anyone can get into, frankly and harshly. We need to have the courage to tell the truth and expose lies, including those about the “safe and civilised” use of so-called light substances and other drugs.
I have already mentioned it more than once and I would like to repeat it again: charities and other public associations should be more vigorously involved in this work. Many of them already have successful experience in preventing drug addiction, and in helping the social rehabilitation of drug addicts. These practices should definitely be widely disseminated.
Sixth. I have already said that drugs are a global threat. This means we should make efforts to enhance international antidrug cooperation, primarily at prominent and influential platforms such as the United Nations, BRICS, CSTO, and SCO, and expand the exchange of information and experience in countering transnational, cross-border drug-related crime.
And there is one more point I would like to make in conclusion. I believe that the draft Russian State Antidrug Policy Strategy until 2030 certainly takes into account the nature of modern challenges and threats to national security. But you need to be extra careful about each of its provisions, not apply them formally. Let's discuss this document now. I want you to take this very, very seriously, both the document itself and the future implementation plans for this document. Now we need to look at its main provisions.
I would like to give the floor to Minister of Internal Affairs, Chairman of the State AntiDrug Committee Vladimir Kolokoltsev.