Drug addiction in Russia is now at a catastrophic level, and the activity of the organized criminal groups that run the drug business is a serious threat to national security, Oleg Kharichkin, deputy chairman of the State Drug Control Commission, said at a seminar last week on 'Organizing Cooperation Between the State Drug Control Organization and Non-Governmental Organizations in Preventing Drug Abuse,' Rosbalt reported. He said 500,000 persons in Russian were registered as addicts but that there are 3.5 million to 4 million drug-dependent persons in the country.
Kharichkin also underlined the growth of the number of organized criminal groupings involved in transporting and distributing narcotics. 'In Moscow and its suburbs alone, more than 30 ethnically based criminal organizations are active in the drug trade,' the deputy chairman of State Drug Control asserted. Moreover, he said, Russia's drug market is currently in the process of intense widening with the addition of hard drugs of foreign origin, including heroin, cocaine and others. With the relative drop to 5% in the place of marijuana and the like in the Russian narcotics market, the place of hashish and opium has risen by 2.5 times, cocaine by 10 times, amphetamines by 20 times and heroin by 23 times. At the same time, the quantity of seized drugs comes to no more than 15% of the amount illegally sold, he said.