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Police Say Russian Drug Abuse Is 'Catastrophic'

29 July 2005 -- A top antinarcotics police officer says drug abuse in Russia has reached "catastrophic proportions."

Viktor Khvorostyan, head of the Moscow section of the Federal Narcotics Service, said he believes some 4 percent
of Russians, or about 6 million people, are addicts.

He told the weekly newspaper "Moskovskye Novosti" that the average age of teenagers first trying drugs had fallen dramatically and was now 14 years of age.

He said drug trafficking, mostly from Afghanistan, was so great it was becoming a "threat to national security." According to Federal Narcotics Service figures, drug overdoses kill some 70,000 Russians every year, or close to 200 people a day.