On International Drug User day, Nov 1st 2009, Russian activists approached the Federal Drug Control Agency in Moscow to lay flowers in memory of the thousands of people who have died as a result of Russia’s brutalisng drug policies, and laying white slippers at the Agency steps, a Russian symbol for the dead. Russia’s resistance to implement sound, evidence based HIV prevention strategies, have resulted in millions of people becoming infected with HIV, tens of thousands of drug injectors dying needlessly from overdoses every year, and many many thousands being denied access to lifesaving anti-retroviral HIV, Hepatitis C and TB medications, simply because they use drugs, is more than just shameful. For a country that demands to be taken seriously as a world leader, we must stand up united across the world and demand that Russia be denied its global voice of influence unless it immediately changes the way it deals its most marginalised citizens. Russia must, like so many other countries in the world today who have, through harm reduction measures drastically reduced the numbers of injecting drug users with HIV, and follow the overwhelming science, research and data that clearly shows the cost effective route to reduce HIV and drug related deaths in people who inject drugs.
We ask that Russia be held to account for its actions as it continues to set back the world’s enormous efforts over the last decade in particular, to revert the trajectory of HIV/AIDS as its influence continues to light the HIV touchpaper across the EEC region.
In this short video you will see the heavy handed response from Russian officials as Russian activists get chased by police the moment they lay flowers and white slippers at the door of the Drug Control Agency, which culminated in 5 people being arrested and detained for hours.. Shame Russia Shame!
Earlier this year, on the 21st of July on International Remembrance Day, commemorating those who have died as a result of the war on drugs and drug users, protesters once again gathered outside of Russian embassies, this time in Hungary, Germany and Spain as white slippers were posted in packages to the Drug Control Agency in Russia, with a statement urging the government to reconsider its inhumane and ineffective strategy to combat drug use in the country.
Below is a short film from Hungarian Civil Liberties Union who, as one of the countries to carry on the protest, held a candlelight vigil outside their Russian embassy in Budapest.