Growth in Heroin Use from 1990-2004
"There is no doubt that drug use and heroin use particularly have risen meteorically in Russia since 1990. Mikhailov said the total number of drug users had risen 900 percent in the decade ending in early 2004. A Max Planck Institute study of the drug trade in Russia concluded that drug-related crimes increased twelve-fold from 1990 to 1999. Many analysts have traced the dramatic rise in use of injected heroin since the fall of the Soviet Union to economic collapse and attendant rises in unemployment, poverty and desperation and to increased availability of cheap heroin trafficked through central Asia and across the former Soviet states. Some observers have suggested that the aftermath of the events of September 11, 2001 in Afghanistan and central Asia has done nothing to stem the flow of heroin through the region and may even exacerbate it in the long run. Mikhailov of the SDCC has told the press on numerous occasions that the United States military intervention in Afghanistan has contributed to heroin consumption in Russia because the Taliban had been able to suppress opium production before they were overthrown. In 2003, Victor Cherkesov, head of the SDCC, said the drug trade in Russia was valued at about U.S. $8 billion a year."
Human Rights Watch, "Lessons Not Learned: Human Rights Abuses and HIV/AIDS in the Russian Federation," (New York, NY: April 2004) Vol. 16, No. 5, p. 15.