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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

50 Children and Teens Say No to Drugs on the Arbat

MTYouth on the Arbat rallying against drugs on International Anti-Drug Day on Thursday.
A group of about 50 children and teenagers marched down the Arbat to draw attention to drug abuse among young people on International Anti-Drug Day on Thursday.

The demonstrators, some on motorcycles, others wearing "Say No to Drugs!" T-shirts, carried balloons and banners reading "I Choose Life." A few waved Russian flags.

Moscow has 6,414 registered teen drug addicts and alcoholics, according to Children of the Streets, the nongovernmental organization that sponsored the rally.

The total number of officially registered drug addicts in Russia is 500,000, but the actual number is 4 million, the federal anti-drug agency said Thursday.

Anti-drug officials said heroin and cocaine use has skyrocketed by 2,400 percent and 900 percent, respectively, over the past five years.

The Russian drug market has a turnover of $9 billion to $10 billion per year, with most hard drugs such as heroin coming over the border from Afghanistan, the head of the anti-drug agency, Viktor Cherkesov, told reporters.

Law enforcement officials have registered some 40,000 crimes involving drugs since the beginning of this year, his agency said. These crimes account for about 10 percent of all registered crimes.