Drug Addiction Major Problem in Russia According to President Medvedev

Drug Addiction Major Problem in Russia According to President Medvedev

For decades we have heard of the heavy drinking that is so popular in Russia. At times it almost seems like a stereotype – the fur-hatted Russian slamming back vodka after vodka. The problem of abusive drinking in Russia, however, is a real one. Many stories of how alcohol abuse undercuts productivity and dramatically shortens life spans in Russia are sadly true.

Now Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, speaking at the International Anti-Drugs Form in Moscow, has said that they consider drug addiction to be the most serious threat to their economic development and the health of the people of Russia. He asked for greater international cooperation in fighting drug trafficking and warned that politicizing these efforts only serves to undermine their effectiveness.

One of the issues for Russia has been opium trafficking from nearby Afghanisthan. The development of opium has sky rocketed since the Afghanisthan war precipitated by 9/11. The rise in production has led to a rise in heroin abuse in Russia. It has been described as a "flood" by some.

Russia has been highly critical of the United States and NATO because of their seeming reluctance to destroy poppy fields. Medvedev said that opium production has doubled since the war began, and most of the heroin produced is smuggled through the porous southern border Russia shares with ex-Soviet Central Asia.

The US Military has lessened its efforts to destroy poppy crops because it was thought that the practice alienated the poorest people in Afghanisthan. Russia strongly urges that the policy be changed.

Medvedev also pointed out that drug smuggling supports terrorism. Russian’s drug control chief specifically cited terrorists in North Cauaus as benefiting from drug trafficking.

A top UN official also speaking at the conference said that Afghan heroin kills more people in Western Europe than NATO troops killed in the Afghan war.  He said that the biggest consumers of Afghan drugs are Russians – a total of 70 metric tons being sold their annually.

Some in the Russian government take a more conspiratorial view of the rise in drug production in Afghanisthan. They call it the second opium war (the first being the 19th century opium war in China) and believe the CIA is participating in the trafficking of opium to help fund various projects.



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