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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Moscow Mayor Declares War on Youth Drug Use

Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov is about to declare a war on drug use among the city's youth that will include such measures as tougher policing and lectures in schools.

Stanislav Oganyan of the Moscow mayor's press office said Luzhkov gave top priority to reducing youth drug use at a meeting of the city government this week.

"Drug use and trade are on the increase and soon will become a disaster. It should be stopped now before it reaches a global scale," Oganyan quoted Luzhkov as saying.

Up to 23 percent of Moscow's drug users are in their teens, according to data provided by the city health department. The same report also said 14 percent of children aged 13 to 16 have tried drugs at least once.

Police have also reported an alarming tendency toward harder drugs. "A few years ago, we used to intercept mostly softer drugs such as marijuana or anasha [a drug similar to marijuana that grows in Central Asia]. Now it is much harder stuff like cocaine and heroin," said Vladimir Zubkov of the Moscow police press office.

The new anti-drug program, due to be finalized in the next few days, will introduce new telephone hot lines for drug addicts. Special flyers describing the symptoms of drug addiction will be distributed to parents of Moscow school children.

In some parts of the city, pilot programs will be started in which specially trained children will teach other children about the hazards of drug use.

Police are also likely to be ordered to crack down on potential drug dealing spots.

Oganyan said Moscow's chief policeman, Nikolai Kulikov, blamed the city's discos and night clubs for tolerating drug dealers. He did not, however, name any particular places or names. Luzhkov this week promised "to wipe such places off the face of the Earth" as soon as the locations are made known to him, Oganyan said.

"We too have declared war on drugs, but a long time ago," said an employee of the Propaganda night club, who asked not to be identified. The man said it is the club's policy to be on guard for drug dealers or for clients who appear to be on drugs.

Luzhkov's will be the second prominent anti-drug campaign this year. NTV television started its own push earlier this year, showing a series of hard-hitting anti-drug community service announcements and also the show "Sumerki," or "Dusk," in which drug addicts tell of their bad experiences.