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Talking Drugs Updates from Eastern Europe and Central Asia [December 2021]

1. In November 2020, the Ministry of Health of Ukraine submitted a new draft law on medical cannabis for public discussion. “Zaborona” media provides an analysis of the bill (Rus), while national drug policy activists and scientists criticise the initiative for putting a limit of 0.2% THC in the cannabis that is to be legally distributed for medical purposes. This doesn’t suit neither the needs of patients, nor the clinical scientists in the country. Read more here (Ukr).

2. The new regional Eastern and Central European and Central Asian Commission on Drug Policy (ECECACD) was set up to inspire better drug policy in the region. The Commission was formed by a group of distinguished personalities like Aleksander Kwaśniewski, Former President of Poland (Chair), Michel Kazatchkine, Former Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Switzerland, Pavel Bém, Ex-Mayor of Prague, Czechia, Vytenis Andriukaitis, WHO Special Envoy for Europe, Lithuania, Elvira Surabaldiyeva, former Deputy Prime Minister Kyrgyzstan, Kyrgyzstan, Elena Pinchuk, Founder, Elena Pinchuk AIDS Foundation, Ukraine and others. Read more here (Eng).

3. The Russian government, in a bid to clamp down on the illegal circulation of methadone in the country, has reduced the threshold quantities for drug trafficking – the minimum amounts of methadone has been decreased: medium amounts from 0.5g to 0.2g, large amounts from 2.5g to 1g and great amounts from 1kg to 100g – reduced by 10 times! Russian human rights defender Arseniy Levinson commented: “There is no benefit from making repressive drug policies even more repressive. These changes will also allow the police to play-pretend when fighting the drugs”. Read more at “Novaya Gazeta” media (Rus).

4. Watch the new documentary video “Maternity hospital – a place of punishment”, produced by DUNews studio. In this video, women who live with drug dependency issues share their personal stories of violence and discimination from the doctors when giving birth to their children. Video is available here (Rus).

4. Ukraine: Natasha Zelenina, the Ukrainian harm reduction specialist has been illegally imprisoned in Donetsk for 4 years already. On November 5 2017, she was arrested while crossing at the check-point into the Ukrainian uncontrolled territory in East Ukraine. She had buprenorphine, a legal OST medicine prescribed at Vinnytsia Medical Institute. In 2019, she was illegally convicted for “Drug trafficking” by the “authorities” of the so-called “DNR” (Donetsk People Republic). In February she was denied participation in a hostage exchange. Since then, Ukrainian activists are seeking to raise international attention and support for Natasha’s release from prison. Watch a video-address here (Rus) and read about Natasha’s story here (Rus).

5. Russia: Read personal stories of people who use synthetic drugs and about their motivations to seek treatment in the publication by “Knife” media. (Rus).

6. Global Drug Policy Index – the new advocacy tool for drug policy change. Read Anastasia Bezverkha’s interview with Jamie Bridge from IDPC about the EECA countries, included in the index and find out how they score. Follow the link to the TalkingDrugs story (Eng).

7. Hanna Dovbakh, the executive director of EHRA spoke about the key terms in the harm reduction sphere for the EECA region. Read more here (Rus).

8. Read the latest ENPUD news digest here (Rus).

9. Listen to the end-of-the-season podcast episode of “Narkopragmatika” with human rights defender Masha Plotko, legal specialist Mikhail Golichenko and EHRA CEO Hanna Dovbakh in which they dream about the new humane drug policy for the EECA region. The podcast is available here (Rus).

10. Story by “Meduza” media on the Russian drug policy world migrating to Telegram channels and how these channels are used to share stories, videos of drug use, and more. To read follow the link (Rus).

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