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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Luzhkov Backs Tougher Drug Laws

Mayor Yury Luzhkov on Monday called for drug dealers to be "destroyed" and suggested that Russia implement drug laws resembling those of Singapore, which executes people convicted of drug trafficking.

Addressing law enforcement and city officials at the Moscow branch of the Federal Drug Control Service, Luzhkov said that while drug addicts needed treatment more than punishment, drug dealers should be "destroyed."

"In Singapore there is no drug addiction," Luzhkov said. "Let us do the same."

Singapore has some of the world's toughest drug laws, which included mandatory execution for anyone convicted of drug trafficking.

Russia currently has a moratorium on the death penalty and has taken steps in recent years to decriminalize petty drug possession while harshening sentences for dealers and traffickers.

Luzhkov added that "these days, a democratic government does not accept" a drug policy like Singapore's, but that Russia should "accept something close" to it.

Addressing the conference Monday about last year's results of the Moscow branch of the Federal Drug Control Service, branch head Viktor Khvorostyan said his officers had confiscated 422.7 kilograms of illegal drugs, including 66 kilograms of heroin, 45 kilograms of marijuana and almost two kilograms of cocaine. Drug police cracked 146 cases involving drug rings, shut down 75 drug houses and three illegal methamphetamine labs, Khvorostyan said.

Drug police are planning a series of operations to arrest nightclub owners who allow drug dealers to operate on their premises, he said. "Certain directors of entertainment venues earn tens of thousands of rubles each day for turning a blind eye to drug dealing," he said.

Khvorostyan said drug police carried out 255 raids on Moscow nightclubs last year that resulted in 60 criminal cases and 300 fines for possession of small quantities of drugs.

A law that came into effect in May 2004 allowed drug users to possess a greatly increased amount of an illegal substance without risk of being thrown in jail. The law was praised by drug reform proponents but roundly criticized by senior drug-police officials as too lenient.

The law was revoked in February 2006, and the amounts necessary to press criminal possession charges were significantly reduced. Before May 2004, anyone convicted of possession of more than 0.01 grams of heroin could be put in prison. After the 2004 law, that amount was raised to 1 gram.

Currently, anyone convicted of possessing more than 0.5 grams of heroin could face prison time. Anyone caught with this amount or less cannot be legally detained for possession.

Lev Levinson, head of New Drug Policy, an advocacy group for drug law reform, said nightclub raids by drug police were typically fraught with rights violations, with clubbers being illegally detained and forced to submit to medical examinations.

"Using a drug is not a criminal offense," Levinson said. "It is punishable only by a fine."

Levinson said Luzhkov had spoken longingly of Singapore's drug policy since the late 1990s.