NOVO-OGARYOVO, January 20 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the country's Drug Control Agency to complete work on a program for the rehabilitation and reintegration of drug addicts, the Kremlin said Monday.
The inter-agency agreement needed for the finalization of the program should be completed “as soon as possible,” Putin told Viktor Ivanov, head of Russia’s Drug Control Agency, according to a transcript.
Russia has been criticized by international NGOs for its scant drug rehabilitation and prevention programs, and in particular for a blanket ban on the use of methadone, employed in many countries to curb heroin use.
A government report last September estimated the number of drug addicts in Russia at 8.5 million people, or almost six percent of the population. A Bloomberg report published on January 14 estimates the number of intravenous drug users in Russia at about 2.4 million, and counter to global trends, the rate of HIV infection is rising: Last year, it grew by 7 percent, according to state statistics.
Putin ordered Ivanov to create the Program for the Rehabilitation and Re-socialization of Drug Addicts in November 2012, but Ivanov said Monday that it had not yet been put together because of discussions over funding.
Some regional governments have stopped waiting for it to be finalized and have already begun to implement aspects of the program at a local level, Ivanov said, according to the Kremlin.