Drug rehab NGOs get pledge of support from govt

© Albeiro Lopera
The Russian prime minister has ordered state subsidies for NGOs engaged in rehabilitation of drug addicts on condition that those groups have previous experience and other sources of financing.

Dmitry Medvedev’s decree orders that subsidies be extended to NGOs after government tenders. The criteria mentioned in the document are at least three years of previous work in drug rehabilitation, certificates proving that staff has proper training and additional financing from either municipal and regional budgets or from private sources.

The tender commission will also assess the social and economic effectiveness of rehabilitation programs pretending for government sponsorship.
The document also states that introducing additional state funding to rehabs run by NGOs would make them more effective and affordable.

Drug rehabilitation is used by some Russian politicians as a main driver of self-promotion and at least one man has managed to build a solid political career by running a network of controversial private rehab clinics. That is Evgeny Roizman, head of Russia’s fourth-largest city of Ekaterinburg, who is best known for his City Without Drugs foundation.

City Without Drugs was founded in 1999 by Roizman and several of his close friends. They established a free hotline and soon started running operations in which activists raided drug dens together with the police, helping to nab the dealers. Roizman also openly confronted local police authorities, accusing them of cooperating with drug dealers. He made many enemies, but also gaining great public support.

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The activists also opened several private rehabilitation centers for drug addicts that were not using any medical methods, but concentrated on long-term abstinence and labor therapy. After a while, mass media started questioning these methods, claiming they often fell under the definition of kidnapping and illegal imprisonment.

A number of cases were started in connection with patients’ violent deaths and in 2002 two rehab directors were sentenced to prison for torture and inflicting traumas that caused death after they badly beat two patients after a failed escape attempt. In 2009, several activists from one of the foundation branches were tried for kidnapping and illegal imprisonment, and the head of the rehab was eventually given a suspended prison sentence.

Roizman ran for Ekaterinburg City leader in 2013 elections with the backing of the pro-business party Civil Platform, headed by billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov. He won the elections after securing over 30 percent of votes.