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Russia Moves To Tackle Drug Abuse

21 July 2005 -- Russia's government today approved a new draft program on fighting drug addiction.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Zhukov said the program differs from older programs by having more clearly defined objectives.

"The new program has a clear and distinct indicator of its effectiveness, and that is whether drug abuse has in fact decreased," Zhukov said. "And I believe we can analyze the results of the program annually and make adjustments to it depending on its results."

The program aims at developing new ways of treating and rehabilitating drug addicts.

The Russian Ministry of Health and Social Development says there were over 490,000 drug users in the country last year.

A senior Russia counternarcotics official, Aleksandr Fedorov, has said the official figures underestimate the real situation. Experts estimate as many as 6 million Russians could use illegal drugs.