From 20 to 24 November 2017, the INCB President visited the Russian Federation to assess how the country is implementing its obligations under the international drug control treaties. Disappointingly, it seems that the INCB only met with NGOs focusing in the areas of drug prevention and rehabilitation, and failed to discuss drug policy with NGOs focusing on harm reduction.

The lack of access to harm reduction is a critical issue in a country where methadone continues to be prohibited and the distribution of clean needles continues to be controversial. HIV prevalence among people who use drugs in Russia has increased exponentially in the past five years, and will continue to do so unless the Russian government reviews its overly prohibitionist approach to drug control, and stops cracking down on harm reduction service providers. It is our hope that these issues will be duly reflected in the INCB Annual Report for 2018.

Below is a short article published by the INCB on the visit. 

By the INCB

An INCB mission visited the Russian Federation from 20 to 24 November 2017. The mission was carried out byProfessor Viroj Sumyai, President of the International Narcotics Control Board, accompanied by Ms. Beate Hammond of the INCB secretariat. The objective of the mission was to review the implementation of the international drug control treaties by the Russian Federation and to examine drug control developments since the last mission of the Board in 2005.

The mission, which was organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, held consultations with several high-level officials of the Russian Federation, including the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Deputy Minister of Health, the Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade and the Chief of the Ministry of Internal Affairs General Administration as well as senior officials from these authorities. The mission visited the Moscow Endocrine Plant, a state-owned manufacturer of pharmaceutical preparations as well as facilities which provide emergency care, treatment, counseling and rehabilitation of drug users. In addition, the mission met with non-governmental organizations (NGO) active in the area of drug prevention and rehabilitation and visited a therapeutic community operated by an NGO.

The findings of the mission are expected to be reviewed by the Board at its forthcoming session in February 2017 and will be reflected in the INCB Annual Report for 2018, to be released in March 2019.

Meeting of the INCB mission with officials from the Ministry of Health: INCB President Viroj Sumyai (fourth from left), Deputy Minister of Health Dmitry Kostennikov (third from left). Source: INCB website