I am glad to be here and give my regards on behalf of St. Petersburg governor Mrs. Valentina Matvienko and the government of St. Petersburg. Thank you for inviting me to this conference.
During the last decade illegal use and spread of drugs have become a significant threat to the health of my nation and to the social, political and economic stability of the Russian state.
Due to the particularities of infrastructure and its geographical position, St.Petersburg has been and will always remain an attractive federal subject for many, inter alia drug dealers, since its geographical proximity allows organising illegal drug channelling.
This is preconditioned by structured internal and external transport networks, high migration levels, developed social and economic standards of living in the city, a significant proportion of well off young people, a great deal of whom are students, which is one of the target groups for multiple kinds of entertainment arrangements.
St. Petersburg labour market has qualified specialists in medicine, biology and chemical industry in abundance, which gives plenty of possibilities to have extra income from organizing under cover labs producing powerful synthetic drugs and cheap intoxicating substances from legal medical drugs or their precursors.
Younger generation is being regularly attacked by drug producing dealers. Drug propaganda comes in smart package and is active in its ways. Lots of published materials as well as Internet books and articles are advertising accepting attitude towards drug use and people are being brainwashed about harmlessness and availability of the so called “light drugs”.
According to official statistics, main users of synthetic drugs and psychotropic substances in St. Petersburg are young people between 12 and 25 years old.
International statistics gives us an approximate number of satellite users to each drug addict, which is from 10 to 15 persons.
The rate and dynamics of the drug situation developing in Russia and in particular in St.Petersburg, explain the necessity of consolidating the strength and resources of all concerned parties combating the drug spread.
Counteracting drug epidemics is, as defined by the Russian president, a goal of federal importance in procuring the national safety of the country.
Government of St. Petersburg devotes a great deal of attention to the problem of drugs and has an action plan for implementing state drug control policies within the framework of drug demand reduction.
During the last couple of years we have introduced a number of laws regulating drug abuse issues, illegal drug trade and prevention. These measures were an act of active work on the part of state drug control institutions, public organisations and religious unions of the city.
As a result of this work a scene for working with prevention, treatment and rehabilitation has been set in order to help drug addicts.
Thanks to the financial support of the municipal authorities, St Petersburg has a complex system of modern automatic monitoring over the drug situation in the city. It was introduced with a focus on informative and time effective support to the managerial decisions of the St. Petersburg municipality in counteracting drug threat.
Essential help is being offered to the law enforcement authorities, who investigate and work with drug crimes in the city.
To implement presidential Decree of 2007.10.18., and in accordance to the decision of St. Petersburg Governor of 2008.01.14., a new institutional unit has been introduced: Anti-Drug Committee of St. Petersburg, directly subdued to the governor.
Anti-Drug Committee is a managerial organ, coordinating the tasks of all state subjects to combat the spread, trade and use illegal drugs. Now, within the cooperation framework with the state institutions in other state subjects, the leaders of municipalities in other regions of Russian Federation are to meet regularly to discuss common actions as a part of work of this Commission.
St. Petersburg city government works on various projects together with international organisations, for instance, UNISEF, Council of Europe and Nordic Council of Ministers. In particular, in October 2008 representatives of St. Petersburg municipality, regional government representatives and district court representatives who work with prevention of violence towards children and preventing illegal drug use, visited Copenhagen, Denmark and Oslo, Norway.
In November 2008 within the framework for an international project “Harm reduction methods among drug users and HIV-infected”, a number of S. Petersburg representatives visited USA. They were invited by the University of Yale.
Since December 1998 St. Petersburg has been a member of international organisation European Cities against Drugs (ECAD). Representatives of the Anti-Drug Committee have actively participated in the seminars and conferences organized by the Regional Office of ECAD in St. Petersburg (organised by ECAD Director in Russia George Zazulin), as well as the work meetings and study visits of Swedish drug coordinators and representatives of other countries.
A significant number of interstate contacts have been introduced and are being kept up not only by the municipal authorities, but also due to “folk diplomacy” contacts. Public organisations of St. Petersburg have won grants from Italy, Germany, Sweden, Finland and Norway. This consolidates one common attitude to solving drug issues.
Knowledge and materials we had obtained during those days have already been put into use by the Municipal Anti-Drug Committee in St. Petersburg, regional administrations and law enforcement agencies and NGOs.
Thanks to the accumulated experience and implemented measures we manage to prevent a huge inflow of crimes and law-breakings today.
In conclusion I would like to pinpoint that active cooperation of all parties involved in the prevention of illegal drug spread and use issues in order to solve drug prevention, treatment and rehabilitation problems internationally, remains a vital source of help in the work of municipality of St. Petersburg.
Thank you for your attention!