Drug policy in Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia: presentation of the study by The Economist

On March 10, 2021, from 10 AM to 1 PM ET (EET, UTC +2), an online discussion will be held on the first regional study “Drug Policy in EECA: the Economic, Health and Social Impact” conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit with the support of the Alliance for Public Health in 2020.

The research is unique as it provides data on the economic consequences of the existing drug policy on the example of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia, demonstrating financial costs that countries incur by continuing the existing approach and practices. The document also contains forecasts of what changes await for the states in case they change approaches to drug policy. This is the first study of its kind in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA).

The main purpose of the online presentation on March 10 is to present and discuss the findings from the survey, as well as to initiate wider stakeholder dialogue in focus countries.

To participate in the event, you must pre-register: https://bit.ly/381dmWC. Before the event, all registered participants will be sent a ZOOM link to join the online conference.

The language of the event is Russian and English with simultaneous translation.

Representatives of civil society from EECA countries, representatives of relevant government agencies that make decisions on drug policy issues, representatives of country, donor and international organizations, experts, human rights defenders, and the media are invited to participate in the online discussion on March 10.

The drug policy of the countries of the Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) region is largely similar and is characterized primarily by the predominance of law enforcement measures, while public health measures aimed at prevention, rehabilitation, treatment and access to controlled medicines remain a lower priority for governments. The legislation of these countries and law enforcement practice are restrictive and even punitive in nature.

The main victims of this approach are people who inject drugs (PWID), who are primarily chronically ill people who need medical and social assistance. Instead, in practice, PWID become hostages of the existing approach, since the main efforts of law enforcement agencies are directed at them rather than at the organized drug business.

The report describes the methods and key findings of a study by the Analytical Department of The Economist on the criminalization, access to health and social services of PWID in four EECA countries: Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia. These countries were selected due to the high level of drug use, disproportionate legal regulation and law enforcement practices in relation to PWID.

To understand the social and political barriers and costs associated with scaling up HIV prevention for PWID and treatment targets, the study looked at a number of factors. For example, the report reveals the implications of punitive law enforcement policies using a modeling approach that assesses the savings and benefits of scaling up public health interventions for PWID, as opposed to the current criminalization approach. The report concludes with key recommendations for improving harm reduction practices for PWID in EECA countries in order to reduce the spread of HIV.


Contact for more information:

Email: gavrilova.mark@gmail.com, Inna Gavrylova, PR&Communications Manager, Alliance for Public Health


time sessions

Welcoming words, aims and objectives of the webinar

— Andrey Klepikov, Executive Director of the Alliance for Public Health

— President Aleksander Kwasniewski, Global Commission on drug policy

— Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund

Olena Kucheruk — moderator


Presentation of the report “Drug Control Policies in EECA: The Economic, Health and Social Impact

Chrissy Bishop, the Economist Intelligence Unit

Questions, discussion


Discussion on the report

— Professor Michel Kazatchkine, Global Commission on drug policy

— Zhannat Kosmukhamedova, UNODC

— Vladimir Pozner, journalist, Russian Federation


Current state in 4 countries: discussions for EECA countries

Russian Federation

Peter Meylakhs, Ph.D., Senior Research Fellow Higher School of Economics, St. Petersburg, Russia

Anna Sarang, Andrey Rylkov Foundation, expert on drug policy, Russian Federation

Arseniy Levinson, lawyer, human rights activist, Russian Federation


Erlan Balymov, Major of Police (TBC)

Oksana Ibragimova, PLHA Union, Kazakhstan


Timur Isakov, State Committee on drug enforcement control, Government of Kyrgyzstan, colonel of Police

Erkinbek Iriskulbekov, Economical faculty of the International University of Kyrgyzstan, lawyer, human rights activist, expert on drug policy


— Alexey Aleksandrov, chief doctor Minsk clinical narcology, Belarus

Anatoliy Pospelov, “Positive action”, Belarus

12:30—12:40 Summarizing and closing