Using the internet to promote drugs and persuade people to take prohibited substances will become a criminal offense in Russia under new amendments to legislation ordered by President Vladimir Putin.
The amendments also cover mood-altering synthetic cannabinoids such as Spice. Russia’s consumer watchdog, Rospotrebnadzor, had earlier said these substances caused over 110 deaths in the country between 2016 and 2018.
Putin has endorsed the proposed law, which would ban the publication of information on ways of cooking and distributing psychoactive substances on the internet. He has also instructed the Interior Ministry to increase the number of police officers involved in tackling the illegal drug trade, both on the internet and offline.
MPs have backed the president’s initiative, with Pavel Krasheninnikov of the ruling United Russia Party saying that existing fines for online drugs propaganda have proven “ineffective.” More serious criminal punishment would be “a much more useful tool to tackle this plague,” he added.
The internet “is the fastest and safest instrument of the drug mafia,” said Aleksey Sviridov, the head of the Strong Russia grassroots movement, who had earlier discussed the narcotics issue with Putin.
“Cyber police should be created to curb the sale of substances through social media and messengers,” he said, adding that law enforcers must come up with new ways of tackling the problem, as criminals are constantly refining their distribution means.
The statistics show that there’s no decrease in the number of drug-related crimes, but only growth.
Last year, the World Drug Report by the UN Office for Drugs and Crime said that Russia occupied 15th spot on the list of countries with the highest number of deaths from drugs. The mortality ratio in the country stood at 58.1 people per million, with almost 5,800 actual deaths from narcotics.
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