Drug Control Policies and "Drugs Propaganda" in Putin's Russia

"One of the most common solutions to the drug problem in the Duma debate was that there was a need for more severe legislation. Politicians argued that Russian drug policy was too weak and that a more repressive policy was needed – for example that more legal substances should be classified as illegal, that the drug consumption legislation should be more severe or that the death penalty should be introduced for drug traffickers. Interestingly, only a few politicians discussed prevention and/or treatment as solutions to the problem. When prevention was discussed, many different forms were mentioned, such as school prevention, media campaigns and/or other forms of information campaigns directed at the public. Another form of prevention that the politicians talked about was protecting young people from information about drugs by educating and informing children about traditional Russian values. In line with this idea, some politicians were also overly positive about the use of different forms of legislation to control information about drugs, for example, by means of a propaganda law. The idea of criminalizing drug propaganda is also in line with the rhetoric used by President Putin. In October 2019, Putin called on lawmakers to toughen the anti-narcotics legislation and to impose jail sentences on those found guilty of online “drugs propaganda” (Carroll, 2019). However, the propaganda law has been heavily criticized by NGOs in Russia, and there are media reports about NGOs being sentenced to fines on the basis of this law because they are accused of having published propaganda on drugs (Carroll, 2019). The drug propaganda law has also impacted the situation for anti-drug NGOs in Russia. For example, the Andrey Rylkov Foundation decided in April 2020 to limit access to its website containing materials on Russian and international drug policy, health and human rights resources for people who use drugs (International Drug Policy Consortium, 2020)."


My Lilja (2021), Russian Political Discourse on Illegal Drugs: A Thematic Analysis of Parliamentary Debates, Substance Use & Misuse, 56:7, 1010-1017, DOI: 10.1080/10826084.2021.1906275.