Krokodil: Russia's Deadliest Drug (NSFW)


Uploaded by vice on 17.05.2012

Transcript:

[MUSIC PLAYING]
MALE SPEAKER 1: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]


[SOVIET ANTHEM PLAYING]
ALISON SEVERS: In 1979, the Soviet army entered
Afghanistan, engaging in a brutal 10-year conflict which
kick-started the Afghan opium trade.
It was sold all over the world to help fund the fight against
the Soviets, but the main customers of the opium were
the Russians themselves.
After the fall of the Soviet union in 1991, Russia's heroin
problem continued to grow.
So much so, that in 2011, the country has become the world's
biggest consumer of heroin.
[MUSIC CONTINUES]
ALISON SEVERS: With a southern border more than 4,000 miles
long, we're talking about a patrol area greater than the
distance from New York to London.
It's no wonder the drug trade is out of control.
We travelled to the small Siberian city of Novokuznetsk,
which lies just over the Russian border with
Kazakhstan, and is on the front line
of this heroin epidemic.
Once a Siberian industrial powerhouse, now this city has
fallen into decline, with 20% of its population allegedly
addicted to heroin.
We'd heard stories about ex-addicts building coffins to
bury their friends, and religious cults disguised as
rehab clinics.
Worst of all though were rumors of a new moonshine drug
called krokodil that has some terrifying consequences.
Nowhere are Russia's drug problems more
evident than here.

We've come to an area where there's a lot of derelict
building that are being squatted by addicts as a place
to use and to live.
Everywhere I look around me, there are syringes.
There's more syringes here than I've ever seen in my
entire life.
MALE SPEAKER 2: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

ALISON SEVERS: Why are you hanging out here?
MALE SPEAKER 2: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

ALISON SEVERS: This area is called Zavodskoy and was once
the purpose-built housing estates
of the Soviet workforce.
Now, these imposing tower blocks are just empty shells.
These young men have been living in this abandoned
building for two months.
MALE SPEAKER 3: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

MALE SPEAKER 4: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]
MALE SPEAKER 5: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]
MALE SPEAKER 4: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

MALE SPEAKER 5: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]
MALE SPEAKER 4: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

MALE SPEAKERS: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

MALE SPEAKER 3: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

MALE SPEAKERS: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

MALE SPEAKER 3: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

MALE SPEAKER 4: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]
MALE SPEAKER 3: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]
MALE SPEAKER 4: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]
MALE INTERVIEWER: When was the last time you went to see a
doctor or a hospital?
MALE SPEAKER 3: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

MALE SPEAKER 6: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]
MALE SPEAKER 3: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

[MUSIC PLAYING]
ALISON SEVERS: Sasha Pelikhov works for an organization
called Regenerate Russia, which helps rehabilitate
heroin addicts in Novokuznetsk.

Sasha explained to us that there might be more to the
drug trade than just making money.
SASHA PELIKHOV: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

ALISON SEVERS: There's a widely held belief that a
phenomenon called narcoterrorism
fuels the drug trade.
It's said that Afghan terror groups help expediate the
supply of heroin to Russia in order to both profit from
their former invaders and also weaken the population by
poisoning them with heroin.
This is what's known as the Golden Crescent.
It's the route that heroin takes from northern
Afghanistan, throughout Central Asia, and into Russia.
Sasha told us that the center of the local trade was at the
food markets just outside the city center.
It's where trucks from Kazakhstan are offloaded with
heroin for distribution around Novokuznetsk
and the wider areas.
We were told to approach this place with extreme caution,
and not to get out of the car.

As we drove slowly through the market, we noticed gangs of
men doing business next to their trucks.
Many of them bore Kazakhstan license plates.
It didn't take long to get us noticed.
All of a sudden, someone spotted our cameras, and
people started beeping their horns and yelling.
MALE SPEAKER 7: Why are people beeping?
MALE SPEAKER 7: Yeah, everyone's
checking us out now.
MALE SPEAKER 8: Yeah, let's just get the fuck out.
MALE SPEAKER 7: Let's get the fuck out of there.
Let's go.
Let's go.
Let's go.

ALISON SEVERS: There's two pretty snazzy cars behind us.
Those are the first snazzy cars I've seen
since we've been here.
Probably going to follow us and kill us now.
The vans have got along the right-hand side of the number
plate, had KZ, which means, obviously, the cars have been
trucked in from Kazakhstan.
MALE SPEAKER 9: It doesn't mean Kool Zines?
ALISON SEVERS: No.
It doesn't mean kool zines.
It means fucking naughty heroin trafficker from
Kazakhstan.
That's what it fucking means.
Well, there's still a car that looks the same.
Or maybe all the cars just look the same.
OK.

We lost the cars and headed back to meet Sasha somewhere
safe, or so we thought.
MALE SPEAKER 10: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

ALISON SEVERS: It kind of just feels like walking into a
forest in the middle of Siberia, plus a lot of very
angry dogs.
That one actually did that whole, like, err, I'm going to
fucking kill you thing.

After about five minutes of walking through Vorstadt, we
met this guy.
Sasha told us he was salvaging scrap metal, which is the most
common way for heroin users to fund their addiction.
MALE SPEAKER 11: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

[MUSIC PLAYING]
MALE SPEAKER 11: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]
[DOG GROWLING AND BARKING]
MALE SPEAKER 9: What is it?
ALISON SEVERS: Because I can't see where the syringes are.
They're fucking everywhere.

Opposite the rehabilitation center, there's just a
deserted building where there's syringes all over the
floor, and, like, empty bottles of this stuff.
ALISON SEVERS: What's this?
Sasha.
MALE SPEAKER 12: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]
SASHA PELIKHOV: What is in Tropikamid?
[SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

ALISON SEVERS: Sasha explained that the eyedrops were one of
the main ingredients of a new drug called krokodil, a kind
of moonshine heroin.
Krokodil is so called because it turns the user's skin scaly
and eats them from the inside out.
SASHA PELIKHOV: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

ALISON SEVERS: That woman walked past us earlier when we
were on our way out to the brothel.
And Sasha told me the she's on the road, which mean she's a
working prostitute.
She's just walked past now.
She's met up with a guy, and she's going to go have sex
with him down there.
Brilliant.
That's completely depressing.
Fucking hell.
With high volumes of drug addicts comes high volumes of
prostitution.
And Novokuznetsk is no exception.
What was worrying here was how young the girls were.
So over there, I can see two girls.
One of them looks about 14, and they've been talking to a
succession of men who are stopping in cars at the side
of the street.
And in fact there's so much going on here with crime and
drug use, you'd expect to see police cars and ambulances,
but I haven't seen any of them.
[MUSIC PLAYING]
NATASHA: [SINGING IN RUSSIAN]

[SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

ALISON SEVERS: The Russian government offers very little
support for addicts.
There are no local state-funded rehab centers,
and so the void has been filled by private
organizations.
They range from centers like this one, where the addicts
provide volunteer work to pay for their treatment, to
evangelical churches that have been accused of
running like cults.

OLEYSA: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

ALISON SEVERS: I heard a lot of people died.
OLEYSA: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

NATASHA: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

ALISON SEVERS: Oh.
NATASHA: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

ALISON SEVERS: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]
NATASHA: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

[CHOIR SINGING]
ALISON SEVERS: After we left the girls, we went to visit
the priest of the main orthodox church in
Novokuznetsk.

I had to wear a head scarf in order to be
able to talk to him.
Spasibo.

MINISTER VASILY: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

ALISON SEVERS: So this is the bit that we bought in the shop
in your church.
And it says, Christian sects, how they're servants of the
anti-Christ.
Is this relevant in this city?
MINISTER VASILY: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

YEVGENY: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

ALISON SEVERS: This is Yevgeny.
By day, he's a funeral director, and by night, he run
the Novokuznetsk branch of Teen Challenge, which is an
American Christian charity that now has missionaries and
centers in over 70 countries around the world, and it's
growing rapidly.
He told us to come along to meet his congregation in a
remote part of the city which was an hour drive up a very
steep hill.
And when we arrived, we found this.
[RUSSIAN ROCK MUSIC PLAYING]
ALISON SEVERS: This is the sleeping room for the
brotherhood here at Teen Challenge, which is Yevgeny's
church group
[SINGING IN RUSSIAN[
ALISON SEVERS: This is a rehabilitation center for
people involved in Teen Challenge, which is an
American church that's come to Russia.
And now Yevgeny practices their doctrine.

I think that Teen Challenge is a cult, to be honest.
MALE SPEAKER 13: Today, I live here six months.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Jesus Christ help me.

[SINGING CONTINUES]
MINISTER VASILY: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

[SINGING CONTINUES]
[APPLAUSE]
WORSHIP LEADER: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

ALISON SEVERS: This is Sergey.
We met him begging outside on the street, and he said most
of the people he knew have been affected
by heroin and krokodil.
SERGEY: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

SEREZHA: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

ALISON SEVERS: Later that night, Sergey took us on a
tour of local pharmacies to show us how easy it is to pick
up the ingredients for krokodil.
So these are 24-hour pharmacies
that we're going to.
You can do this any time of the day.
SERGEY: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

ALISON SEVERS: Sergey said he knew someone who could cook
the krokodil for us.
He promised to meet us again.
That was the last time we saw him.

ALEXEY: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

ALISON SEVERS: Alexey is the pastor of an independent
church that reforms heroin and krokodil addicts.
ALEXEY: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

ALISON SEVERS: Alexey took us to meet his friend, whose
family has been destroyed by krokodil.
With a drug that can kill it users so quickly, it's very
rare to meet survivors.
LYUDMILA: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

MISHA: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]
SERGEY: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]
ALISON SEVERS: And you been taking krokodil?
SERGEY: We have, yeah.
MISHA: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

ALISON SEVERS: When did you start taking it?
MISHA: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

SERGEY: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]
MISHA: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

LYUDMILA: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

ALISON SEVERS: I felt quite helpless leaving Lyudmila's
house, but nowhere near as helpless as she must feel.
Her health, home, and family life have been totally
destroyed by krokodil, a drug you can just work out how to
make with the help of internet forums.
President Medvedev has talked about closing down the
websites that are providing this information, but the
internet seems harder to police than the border.
I can't see any way out for these people if they're
relying on that.
Drug users are developing new, terrifying ways of consuming
opiates faster than the government can decide on any
form of policy.
The church and the sects aren't the answer, but sadly,
they seem to be the best hope these young people have in a
city that really does feel like it's been forgotten.