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12 Feb, 2009 18:21

80 Russians die of drugs every day – official

80 Russians die of drugs every day – official

Over 80 drug addicts die in Russia each day and more than 250 people become new drug addicts. That’s according to Viktor Ivanov, head of the Russian Federal Drug Control Agency.

Ivanov highlighted the sad statistics on Thursday at a news conference at the Itar-Tass news agency, Moscow.

“The increase in the number of drug addicts in Russia is beginning to look like an epidemic. Each day, over 80 people die from drugs and more than 250 become drug addicts,” said Ivanov.

Officially, there are 537,000 drug users in Russia at the moment, he said. “At the same time, international estimates are five times that figure,” he said.

The overwhelming majority of drugs in Russia originate in Afghanistan.

“Around 90 per cent of drug addicts in Russia are addicted to Afghan opiates, are hooked on the 'Afghan needle',” Ivanov said.

Ivanov believes the fight against a drug threat coming from Afghanistan will be more effective if NATO forces stationed in Afghanistan join in.

“At the moment, NATO has not set the task of fight against drugs, instead, fighting only terrorism,” Ivanov noted. “However, if NATO carries out its operations in Afghanistan, the Alliance must share responsibility with the Afghan government for the drug threat,” he stressed.

According to the head of the Drug Control Service, Russia alone cannot cope with Afghan drugs, from which all countries suffer.