Opening Remarks at a Security Council Session 2001-09-28 00:02:55 The Kremlin, Moscow President Vladimir Putin: Esteemed colleagues, The question of our agenda is the fight against the illicit drug trafficking and the spread of drug addiction. Today this problem is extremely acute, and not only in and by itself. It is directly connected with the success of the fight against crime, or failure if we poorly fight the phenomenon which we will today be talking about, and indeed a whole variety of social and economic issues. And of course most closely intertwined with the number one theme in the world – the struggle against terrorism. Narco-business is one of the financial sources for terrorist groups and bandit gangs. It is well known that 80 percent of heroin is supplied to the world market from Afghanistan. And gunmen of certain movements control drug transfer from there to Central Asia and on to Europe through Russia. Terrorism and drugs are absolutely kindred phenomena. They have common roots and similar destructive power. Terrorism, just as narco-business, has a ramified international network and without doubt bears a trans-national character. Narco-business also has a pronounced economic aspect. And you and I know: drug addiction as a medical and social phenomenon doesn't exist without a criminal narco-market network, drug sales. And the specialists will confirm today during our discussion what huge profits this business brings in. And this black market does bring in super profits. And the ”dirty“ money is being spent on ”dirty“ aims. Our country has today become a colossal user of the narco-potion. Today, according to official data alone, there are about 269,000 drug addicts on the register. And the actual figure for drug users is much higher. Moreover, the narco-market structure is changing. We have a conspicuous growth of the share of highly concentrated drugs, and in the first place Afghan heroin, the proportion of which in total drug use constitutes 28 percent. I think even more. There grows local drug production in the country, including that of synthetic drugs, cheap and producing instant dependence. What's particularly dangerous is that the number of such laboratories by some expert estimates has greatly increased in Russia in recent years. Unfortunately, the social base of drug addiction is expanding. Today this disease has percolated to all sections of society, encompassing the territory of the entire country, especially the depressed areas. This is leading to an avalanche-like spread of AIDS. By experts' estimates, 90 percent of the HIV-infected catch the virus precisely through intravenous drug use. As before, most of the drug addicts — up to 53 percent — are unemployed. It is they who reinforce the army of distributors now as well, which in its turn gives rise to a crime flare. The saddest thing is that drug addiction has got much younger. The total number of sick persons has increased by nine times over the recent period, and among adolescents by 17 times. The ”average age“ of those who have for the first time tasted drugs barely exceeds 14 years. In drug trafficking Russia is not only a ”terminal,“ but also a trans-shipment point. Drug syndicates have undertaken a real expansion in Russia. It has become a favorable transit corridor for them. By experts' estimates, one dollar invested in a narcotic — for example, in Afghanistan — grows into super-profits after the sale of the drug item in European countries. And the overall volume of your and our market — the Russian market — exceeds 1 billion dollars. Power agencies obviously bear the brunt of the fight against the drug mafia. Here we will inevitably have to strengthen, both financially and with cadres, all of the services that are associated with this kind of activity — the fight against the drug mafia. By the detention of drug goods alone we cannot solve this problem. Only a small part of merchandise gets confiscated. Experience shows that the detainees are mostly petty retailers, and sometimes also those who need being treated themselves. In this connection it is time in general to revise the criteria of work in this direction. We must put up a barrier to all the ways for drug penetration into illegal trade, smash the infrastructure of drug networks and eliminate demand. Dear colleagues, The reasons for the powerful drug ”invasion“ lie not only in the proximity of the countries of the Golden Crescent. For it there are loopholes in Russia itself — financial, legal, administrative and, of course, social. It is therefore our aim to shut off all the channels for drug distribution — both external and internal. And one more important aspect of the problem — the attitude to this question of society itself. Drugs are percolating even to social institutions which are responsible for the upbringing of young people. Called upon to serve as an obstacle to drug pushers, the educational institutions, unfortunately, are becoming a bridgehead for drug distribution. We're encountering the indifference of both the school and parents. Today every fifth recruit brings to the army with him an experience of drug use with all the ensuing consequences for security agencies. Drug use should not be allowed to become a subculture or fashion. Unfortunately, we're observing signs of this. Even worse, books are being freely sold that propagate a ”narcotic lifestyle.“ All of these manifestations of a grave social disease have to be fought by legal and administrative and educational methods. Here a considerable workload falls on legislators, legislation in general, and law enforcement practice. Changes ought to be directed toward stiffening criminal responsibility for the most dangerous narco-crimes. Thought should also be given to the introduction of a practice of replacing punishment with coercive treatment for drug addicts. And let us discuss the possibility of providing punishment for drug advocacy. Obviously the emphasis should be on prevention. We should not limit ourselves to isolated establishments, we must be creating a network of rehabilitation centers. Developing our own methods of treatment and return of people to a normal social life. Unfortunately, drug addiction has ceased to be a ”disease of the rich only,“ and hence we must expand the network of state institutions for the poor. But at the same time we need to develop and create a transparent legal base for the work of private centers. An important set of tasks is connected with the elimination of financial channels for narco-business, which can be cut off not only by fighting against criminal elements, but also through the use of a whole system of special measures. Including the struggle against the legalization of criminal proceeds. The border will require intense work. Today the border guards are performing serious tasks and generally working effectively. Over the recent period a particularly great amount of narcotics coming from Afghanistan has been confiscated on the border. Drug pushers and producers are trying to hide away what they have accumulated over many years in huge quantities, commercial quantities, to urgently transfer it abroad, to save it from possible destruction. We must give this our special attention. We also need to consider how to improve the work of the border guards, how to fortify the borders. The Government Commission for countering drug abuse and trade must, at last, begin to work at full steam. I ask the Chairman of the Government to pay special attention to this problem. Dear colleagues, the situation with drug addiction in the country is acute. And we must respond to it skillfully and most swiftly. Now I suggest we proceed to discussion.