Given the access to the internet, it takes five minutes to find an unlimited offer of psychotropic substances.
Two years after the toughening of punishment for the drugs distribution in Belarus, a mass poisoning with psychotropic substances happened again. Deutsche Welle tried to clarify why the authorities’ measures give no results.
Five days before the New Year, nine people got to the intensive care in Hrodna with poisoning with unknown psychotropic substances. The administration of internal affairs of Hrodna regional executive committee informed that most casualties were young people of 20-30 years old. It was detected that in all the cases drugs had been purchased via internet-stores “Kalashnikov Concern” (not related to the Russian manufacturer of weapons – add.) and “Zubr”.
The Headquarters of the “Mothers’ Movement 328” is also located in Hrodna. The movement unites the parents of the persons convicted under Article 328 which prescribes punishment for the drug-related crimes. The activists remind, since January 1, 2015 the maximum punishment for drugs distribution in Belarus was extended to 25 years of imprisonment. According to their information, since then over 12 thousand people were convicted to long-term imprisonment, and the colonies administrations created unbearable confinement conditions for them. However, the activists of the “Mothers’ Movement 328” claim, the extreme measures didn’t bring the expected effect.
By Own Eyes
Lukashenka’s Decree #6 “On urgent measures on prevention of illegal turnout of drugs” , which made the punishment for selling drugs more severe, appeared after the growth of the number of teenage poisonings and deaths related to synthetic drugs – spices and mixes – recorded in 2014. The mothers criticized the Decree and predicted it would be a failure back then.
The new case of poisoning in Hrodna didn’t surprise anyone, says the man of about fifty years old, who introduced himself as Vasil Ivanou (the name has been altered). He joined the parents’ movement and started his own investigation after his son had tried the drug and had been convicted under Article 328. Right in the presence of the journalist, Mr.Ivanou demonstrated how to find an unlimited offer of psychotropic substances in Hrodna in five minutes, given access to the internet. The “Kalashnikov Concern”, which is only a branch at an online forum, is still working, two weeks after the scandalous incident in Hrodna. According to Ivanou, about 80 similar drug dealing resources work in Belarus now, and there were about 40 of them at that moment.
Become A Dealer
The psychotropic substances trade in Hrodna shocks with its simplicity and availability. The search services give several forums with drugs offers in response to the word combination with the key word being “speed”. Then the sellers offer potential clients to go to internet-messengers from the forum. Thus, they stay anonymous and can even be outside Belarus. Then they offer their product with no shame via messengers.
A potential client sends the phrase “Price, bro!” instead of greetings, and the seller offers a dozen variants – from one dose to a big lot for the self-reliant distribution. There is even a website which teaches how to sell drugs online. E-purses are used for payments.
A spice buyer makes a payment in the Belarusian rubles in any bank terminal, takes a picture of the bill and can take the so-called “cache” – the drug hidden someplace in the street – in no later than three hours. The caches are offered all around Belarus.
Vasil Ivanou explains that they work as a normal store – they advertise in the city streets, painting their internet-address with paint and stensils on the walls and stones, spam the internet-links, hire employees. For example, the price for the service of making a one-dose cache in Hrodna streets is 8 US dollars. Of course, it’s a great risk for youngsters to get a long-term imprisonment, but the temptation to earn two wages of their parents in two days can be overwhelming.
At the same time, according to leader of the “Mothers’ Movement 328” Larysa Zhykhar, the number of Article 328 convicts has expanded to some scary figures. Such convicts are now sent not only to the over-crowded specialized penal colonies in Hlybokaye and Ivatsevichy, but also to Shklou and Babruisk, and the most brutal attitude to them has been recorded at “Vitsba-3” in Vitsebsk.
To distinguish the “drug addicts” from all the other convicts, they force them to sew special identification marks on their robes – the green patches, with a convict’s name and detachment on them. Human rights defenders saw the resemblance with the Nazi’s behavior during the second world war – they marked the Jews in a similar way.
Larysa Zhykhar is convinced such comparison is well-defined: “The 328 convicts are prohibited to leave the territory of their detachments, and the green patches allow the administration to identify an inmate who left his “ghetto”.
Moreover, adds Maryja Kapytkina, another convict’s mother, the youth in the colonies are deprived of the right to visit libraries and gyms. As extra punishment, they took away the aquariums in their detachments, took paintings off the walls and banned indoor plants. Still, no amnesty or release on parole can be applied with regard to such convicts.
What To Do?
Maryja Kapytkina continues – it’s mostly the intellectually developed youth who get to prison under Article 328. As, one must have the skills of working in the internet , alongside with the rather expensive equipment, to find the mix. Very often these are kids from better-off families, Kapytkina says, so their parents are not always ready to communicate with the media – some still occupy top-ranked positions, and no one knows about their grief.
It is quite easy to terminate the spice business, Vasil Ivanou says – it would be enough to block the accounts in two Belarusian banks which work with e-money. According to Larysa Zhykhar, the representatives of the “Mothers’ Movement 328” passed to the police 28 account numbers which had been used by drug dealers. There has been no reaction so far. Meanwhile, the policemen keep catching young buyers every day, and the courts impose severe sentences on them.