Russia is the successor state to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Russia has long focused its drug policy on punishment and is slowly shifting to a policy of harm reduction, a shift complicated by the scale of the problem, the shortage of resources, and tradition. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s, drug abuse increased markedly in Russia, particularly injection of heroin, and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic caused alarm. More recently, President Vladimir Putin noted that trafficking of Afghan heroin had increased since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.

By 2004, drug use in Russia was still lower than in the West, with alcoholism the major addiction. However, the numbers were rising rapidly. Russia suffers 70,000 drug-related ...

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