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Russian interior ministry to close all sobering-up centres by mid-October

September 27, 2011, 15:37 UTC+3
“The scale of alcohol and drug addiction in this country threatens to grow into a national catastrophe,” Alexander Gorovoi said
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MOSCOW, September 27 (Itar-Tass) — Russia’s interior ministry will close all sobering-up centres across the country by mid-October, First Deputy Minister Alexander Gorovoi said on Tuesday.

“The bulk of sobering-up centres were closed last year. Now there are only 12 such centres, and they will be wound up by mid-October,” he told journalists.

Under a police reform, the interior ministry is getting rid of much of its functions that were recognized as extensive, including maintaining sobering-up centres. Such functions are to be vested on other executive agencies.

In this context, Gorovoi expressed the hope that healthcare agencies and regional authorities will do their best to organize similar sobering-up services.

On Monday, Russia’s Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev told a governmental commission on prevention of crime that the level of alcoholism and drug abuse in Russia may cause a national catastrophe, and the question of compulsory treatment of drug addicts and those suffering from alcoholism is high on the agenda.

“The scale of alcohol and drug addiction in this country threatens to grow into a national catastrophe,” he said, stressing that of special worry is the acuteness of these problems with the youth.

He said that the governmental commission had received several suggestions related to this problem. “Many heads of Russia’s regions are adamant it is necessary to discuss the practice of using forced treatment of alcohol and drug addicts,” Nurgaliyev said. “We shall consider submitting relevant initiative, including legislative ones, to the Russian government.”

Crime rates might go up after all sobering-up centres are closed, a lawmaker with the ruling United Russia party said on Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, Russia’s First Deputy Interior Minister Alexander Gorovoi said that the ministry was about to close all sobering-up centres across the country by mid-October. “The bulk of sobering-up centres were closed last year. Now there are only 12 such centres, and they will be wound up by mid-October,” he told journalists.

Under a police reform, the interior ministry is getting rid of much of its functions that were recognized as extensive, including maintaining sobering-up centres. Such functions are to be vested on other executive agencies.

In this context, Gorovoi expressed the hope that healthcare agencies and regional authorities will do their best to organize similar sobering-up services.

In the meantime, the first deputy head of the United Russia faction in the Russian State Duma lower parliament house, Tatiana Yakovleva, who holds the title of Honoured Doctor of the Russian Federation, said it was quite understandable that the interior ministry sought to get rid of “such unpleasant function.” “But their argument that ‘sobering-up’ is outside their competences is quite disputable,” she said. “It is obvious that appearing drunk in a public place and thus injure public morality is an administrative offence. To put it simply, a policeman must detain a drunk person who is lying in the street or harassing passersby and take him to a sobering-up centre.”

Moreover, in her words, sobering-up centres “can hardly be considered medical establishments, since no medical services are offered there.”

As of now, sobering-up centres have been transferred to the competences of local authorities, which, in their turn, transferred them further on to local medical establishments, she noted. As a result, she said, some regions have such centres, some not. “A common algorithm is lacking,” she stressed. Thus, in her words, in some regions specialized wards will be opened at some rehab centres, and persons in the state of alcoholic intoxication will be taken to such establishments by ambulance cars. “And it is not right that ambulance cars (one ride of which costs from 1,500 to 5,000 roubles) are used as a taxi to take drunkards home or to medical establishments. And to leave a drunk human being lying, say, in snow is not humanly,” Yakovleva said.

“But while medics are busy with an alcohol abuser someone may be dying of heart attack or a stroke,” she said. Whilst much effort is being taken to make first aid services really quick, emergency medical services will have to deal with brawler drunkards. “In the long run, medics will have to call police all the same to help them pacify drunk ruffians,” she said.

“Sobering-up centres are a vital necessity, taking into account the current level of alcohol abuse in the country, when two percent of Russians are chronic alcoholics and 76 percent drink regularly,” she stressed. “Maybe, the system of sobering-up centres we have inherited from the Soviet time was far from being ideal, but it somehow worked. Now they have ruined it offering nothing to replace it. Before demolishing it was necessary to organize a new system, to think over details, to provide proper financing.”

And now, she said, when sobering-up centres are lacking it might tell on the crime situation. “The number of crimes committed in the state of alcoholic mania might go up, as might death rates because of delayed arrivals of ambulance cars,” he concluded.

 

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