Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon,
There is no need to expand upon the importance of the theme we are discussing today. We discussed it at the Security Council a year ago. Something has been done, as I will tell you shortly, but it is absolutely not enough.
We are discussing an extremely acute and painful topic, drug addiction. Experts estimate the number of drug users in this country at over 3 million and these are mainly young people. Their number has rocketed in the second half of the 1990s.
Now the growth rate has diminished somewhat. But the situation is still critical in such areas as the Samara, Tomsk, Kemerovo, Tyumen and Irkutsk regions.
Drug addiction of course is not only a Russian problem. It is a global problem. Every country is dealing with it. But in Russia this terrible social disease has some special causes in addition to the universal ones.
We lived through sweeping change that happened within a very short period of time. The social costs have been high: falling living standards, neglected children, rising crime rates and others . Obviously, this transitional period of instability and weakening of the state did not proceed without a trace in this area.
It took some time for the scale of the disaster to sink in to us. By the late 1990s, when drug addiction was first seriously tackled, it became clear that things had gone very very far.
Furthermore, drug traffickers use their dirty money to support terrorism and maintain the hotbeds of instability along borders, above all, the Russian border. It is not by chance that drug trafficking routes pass through the so-called hot spots and coincide with the trails of illegal migration and arms smuggling. Sometimes it is even hard to determine whether this or that route is created to carry primarily weapons or narcotics.
Russia has proved to be vulnerable to narcotics. However, we have considerable potential to effectively combat this evil. And it is obvious that isolated measures do not work. The strategy of fighting illegal drugs must include preventive, educational, medical and law enforcement methods and means. And they must be used in a comprehensive and systemic manner.
I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the fight against money laundering in the drug trade is an important element of the fight against drug trafficking. The money is directly connected with other types of criminal activities. We have been able to do something positive in this area recently. We have made some progress.
But even so the work to fight the drug business as a whole needs to be more coherently organised and we have to develop more effective means and forms for such activities. So I expect that today we will not speak again about the problems and scare each other by describing the difficult situation. It is well known. Today we will discuss concrete and transparent actions.
In connection with this, I would like to identify several key areas. Of course there are other areas, but I think what I am going to mention are the most important ones.
First, creating a zero tolerance attitude to narcotics in our society. That should be the goal of the educational system and the state’s youth policy and social work. There is enough work to keep everyone busy: the government, non-governmental organisations and the mass media. And the regions and local government bodies are to play the leading role in that.
I am talking about a sustained effort and not one time actions.
Second is the medical factor. Drug addiction, among other things, is a serious disease. It is impossible to stop its spread without a high quality and affordable system of drug rehabilitation. That involves a multitude of issues including the development of new domestic drugs, preventive and treatment methods. Also, the drug addiction rehabilitation centers, including private ones, must proceed within a clear-cut legal framework.
The process of rehabilitation and reintegration is an important link. We have no achievements to report there. Some initiatives have been launched, but they do not add up to a coherent system. We must work on modern methods of rehabilitation and support the people who undertake this difficult work.
The third area is the strengthening of border and customs control and the development of international cooperation.
I would like to discuss another organisational problem. I am aware that there is a move to create a special government body to combat the illegal trade of narcotics and psychotropic substances. I suggest that all those present think about the powers with which the new body may be vested and its organisational forms. And I think that in concluding our meeting today, we will take the final decision based on the proposals that you will put forward and formulate.