"A total war on drugs" was just announced by the Speaker of the Russian Duma, Boris Gryzlov. The Guardian reports that Gryzlov, a close ally of Prime Minister Putin, wants drug dealers "treated like serial killers."
The hard-line, criminal justice approach flies in the face of recent suggestions to treat drug use as a public health issue. The Russian Government immediately dismissed the suggestion last week of the Global Commission on Drugs calling the report "propaganda" for drugs.
Gryzlov said abuse was soaring, and that it "threatened the gene pool." His proposed measures include special punishments for dealers, such as forced labor camps. For users, he calls for "prison or forced treatment."
Drug policy reformers immediately pointed to Russia's poor record of dealing with HIV infection among drug using populations. In many countries, the HIV infection rate among intravenous drug users hovers around 1 to 2 percent. In Russia overall, 16 percent of intravenous drug users are infected with HIV, and in St. Petersburg, that figure rises to around 60 per cent.
Will the initiative pass the Duma? The Guardian reports that Gryzlov has the support of United Russia, the ruling party, which also exerts power over the Parliament.