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TalkingDrugs News from Eastern Europe and Central Asia Region [September-October 2021]

1. In Orenburg Russia, on October 15, representatives of the Russian Federal Security Service entered two Russian human rights defenders’ homes – the Head of the NGO “Right to Everyone” Aidana Fedosik and her colleague Svitlana Arshavska. A local district court provided a warrant to search their homes. Fedosik is allegedly accused of distributing drugs and Arshavska of knowing about her colleague’s illegal activities. Obviously, no drugs were found during the search. This was an attempt to threaten the human rights defenders because of their field of activities – the protection of drug users’ rights. Watch the video with the details of this case here (Rus). Also read the article about it at MediaZona news portal (Rus).

2. Ukraine: In the last 4 years, more than 83% of all people arrested for drugs have received sentences for drug possession, using Article 309.1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. This accounts for 8,500 people out of 67,500 total inmates in Ukraine in 2020. In 2019 it was 8,000 out of 70,300 inmates. Data is published by “Motylek” media organisation and is available here (Rus).

3. The Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA) has launched the new online magazine “Check” about Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS). Magazine is developed for people who use drugs, experts and activists. First issue is available online here (Rus). 

4. Lithuania moves to decriminalise the possession of drugs. In October 2021, the Lithuanian Parliament approved law amendments proposing to decriminalise possession of small quantities of drugs. Sixty-five members of parliament voted in favour of the amendments, with 40 were against and four abstaining. One more vote must take place before the changes come into force. Read more details on the vote here (Eng). 

5.  The EHRA has published a regional report on the use of NPS in the EECA region. The report examined motivation of NPS users, examined key risks for public health and provided recommendations. The report is available here (Eng).  

6. Moldova: a report on the quality of harm reduction services has been launched by the EHRA, and can be found here (Rus).

7. Russia: A story about Russian adolescents being more and more often accused of drug distribution via “dead drops” was published by the Ria Novosti (Rus). The research into the number of young people being prosecuted for drugs by the Russian courts was conducted by the Hand-Help.ru civic initiative and published by the “Novaya Gazeta” (Rus). 

8. Ivan Antoshkin, the Survivor. Video documentary by DUNews studio about the Russian activist who is fighting against the Russian state for his right to substitution therapy. Please watch the video here (Rus). 

9.  Video documentary about the consequences of the repressive drug policy in Ukraine. Watch stories of people who use drugs and experts’ comments via the following link (Ukr and Rus).

10. Should we say “marihuana” or “cannabis”? The "Legalize Belarus" civic initiative has conducted research on this question. Read here (Rus).

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