Police Harassment and Injection Drug Use in Russia
"Researchers have found that police harassment is one of the most important factors that exacerbate risky behavior among drug users in Russia. In a 2002 study of drug use in five Russian cities, 44 percent of drug users said they had been stopped by the police in the month prior to being interviewed, and two third of these said that their injecting equipment had been confiscated by the police. Over 40 percent added that they rarely carried syringes for fear of encountering the police with them. In the Togliatti study, Rhodes and colleagues found that fear of being arrested or detained by the police was the most important factor behind the decision of drug users not to carry syringes, which in turn was an important determinant of sharing syringes during injection. This study concluded that drug users who had been arrested or detained by the police for drug-related offenses were over four times more likely than other users to have shared syringes in the previous four weeks. Drug users who feared the police in Togliatti tended to avoid not only syringe exchange services but also drug stores that sold syringes because police frequently targeted people buying syringes at such locations, a result also highlighted in a 2003 study of drug users in Moscow."
Human Rights Watch, "Lessons Not Learned: Human Rights Abuses and HIV/AIDS in the Russian Federation," New York, NY: April 2004, Vol. 16, No. 5.