The Andrey Rylkov Foundation has decided to limit access to its website with materials on Russian and international drug policy, health and human rights resources for people who use drugs. We have decided to temporarily shut down our website in light of a new government attack on the organization.
On Thursday, April 16th the major Russian government-owned news channel Rossiya-24 ran a prime-time news piece where they accused the Andrey Rylkov Foundation of distributing ‘narco-propaganda’, a couple of days after the Federal News Agency (RIAFAN) had run an “investigation” with similar accusations. The investigation was prompted by an earlier news piece, “Thousands on methadone withdrawals”, published by opposition outlet Mediazona, where ARF has shared the challenges we face during the COVID-19 crisis providing assistance to people who use drugs. The Mediazona news piece described people who use drugs as one of the most vulnerable populations, especially in Russia, where they don’t have access to effective drug treatments based on globally-recognised science and medicine and instead are forced into painful withdrawals.
The next day, Vasiliy Piskarev, the chair of the State Duma Security Committee, published a statement on the Duma website accusing us of attempting to decriminalize drug use and promoting drugs propaganda, and informs that he had passed this information onto the authorities in order to initiate a new series of check-ups.