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Statement of the Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the International Organizations in Vienna during the discussion on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the world drug situation, a regional perspective.

Mr. Chairman,

We have read with interest preliminary assessments of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the drug supply chains in the 2020 World Drug Report. Russia fully recognizes the need to address this topical issue and to take closer look from the drug perspective at the pandemic and its consequences. We underline the importance of reliable and science-based information for these purposes.

We have to be aware of the fact that the current public health crisis poses multifaceted challenges to the global situation in many areas and the pandemic has diverse effects on the drug situation in various countries and regions.

In Russia during the 5 months of 2020 we have witnessed a significant expansion of the illicit market for synthetic drugs produced in local clandestine laboratories. Illicit substances are increasingly sold online through the Darknet. Our law enforcement authorities registered a two-fold increase in the number of drug-related offences committed with the use of IT-technologies. Definitely, new trends require further monitoring and relevant measures to mitigate risks to public health and safety.

Despite the COVID-related restrictions drug trafficking continued across borders. It proves time and again the transnational nature of the world drug problem, which cannot be effectively countered by national efforts alone. The Russian Federation believes that in this stressful time the CND as the prime UN policy-making body for drug control matters should have its say on the issue. At least we have to reaffirm solidarity and call for collective solutions to COVID-related drug challenges, while preserving the Vienna spirit.

At the backdrop of the pandemic, it is important to continue technical assistance to those countries that faced drug-related problems (also before the outbreak). Russia is committed to support those in need through bilateral channels (we do it with respect to many countries) as well as through our voluntary contributions to the UNODC and other UN entities.

Thank you for your attention.