Wednesday, April 8, 2009

So proud of the mother country

The US is to blame for the global drug war and its devastating results, it's true. But just when you think things are bad *here* and yearn for a good old dose of European Socialism or start daydreaming about moving to Portugal...

Both government and public health officials agree that the epidemic of heroin addiction in Russia has reached terrifying proportions that could in the long run prove devastating. But while the Government hints that the Western intervention in Afghanistan is the root cause of Russia's drugs woes, its critics claim that Russian Government policy on drugs is responsible for worsening the epidemic.

"The Russian strategy is to stifle serious debate about the problem and demonise drug users," said Dasha Ocheret, of the Eurasian Harm Reduction Network in Moscow.

Any addict who seeks medical help for addiction is immediately put on the state "narcological register". This information is available to police, who can have the drug user arrested and put in prison, and causes huge problems for people if they kick their habit and want to reintegrate into society.

A report by Human Rights Watch claimed that Russian policy decisions on treating drug users were outdated and "deliberately ignore the best available medical evidence and recommendations".

Substitution therapy using methadone is banned in Russia, and needle and syringe exchange points are regarded as highly controversial. "Task number one for any drug user is to hide away from everyone," said Ocheret. "They worry that if they go to get clean needles and syringes they will be arrested and sent to prison."
This in turn drives other devastating epidemics in the country, such as hepatitis C and HIV/Aids. More than one million people in the country are thought to be HIV positive.

More than 30,000 people die from drug use every year, and in a sparsely populated country, it's a statistic that Russia cannot afford.
--The New Zealand Herald 3/12/09

Reminds one of the the draconian conditions under Anslinger described in William Burroughs' _Junkie_, where the state of *being* an opiate addict was an arrestable offense and people started injecting in all sorts of creative places b/c of the regular demand to pull up one's sleeve in drug neighborhoods, an encounter that usually led to a stay in jail.

On another note, a lighter one--and maybe this blog should start having more of those--why are Russian tattoos, especially Russian prison tattoos, so superior to American ones? No garish ink colors, no cartoonish aesthetic. Intricate detail, ink that fades gracefully into a pleasing dark green, cool subverted Orthodox Church religious imagery & art, a complex code of criminal identity...
Check out this incredible blog devoted exclusively to this topic---Russian tattoo porno for eccentrics like me!

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