Russian Policing Practices Violate Health and Individual Rights

"In the three Russian cities participating in this study, we found policing practices targeting injecting drug users (IDUs) to violate health, as well as individual rights. The brutality of police practices violate health directly, but also indirectly through the reproduction of day-to-day social suffering, which in turn can be internalized as self-blame, lack of self-worth, and fatalism regarding risk. These findings illustrate how law enforcement practices, particularly extrajudicial practices, generate an atmosphere of fear and terror, which shapes everyday practices of risk avoidance and survival among IDUs. Policing practices contribute to the reproduction and experience of stigma, and linked to this, a sense of fatalistic acceptance of risk, which may become crucial in shaping health behaviour, including HIV prevention. Yet we also identify nonconforming cases of resistance to such oppression, characterised by strategies to preserve dignity and hope. This leads us to consider how hope for change provides an important resource of risk reduction as well as escape, if only temporarily, from the pervasiveness of social suffering."


Sarang, Anya, Rhodes, Tim, Sheon, Nicolas, and Page, Kimberly, "Policing Drug Users in Russia: Risk, Fear, and Structural Violence." Subst Use Misuse. 2010 May; 45(6): 813–864. doi: 10.3109/10826081003590938