Drug abuse in Russia
Russian drug abuse is increasing at an alarming rate across the country.Pictures made photographer by Lorena Ros
There are more than 300,000 registered drug users in Russia, but experts believe the real figure to be between five and eight times greater than this. Officials warn that more drugs could flood in from Afghanistan in the autumn.
The illegal drugs trade is one of the biggest problems facing Russia's law enforcement agencies. At the bottom of the scale are the drug addicts, who often turn to petty crime to fuel their habit.
At the top are criminal gangs and extremist organisations which make huge sums of money out of the narcotics business.
Mr Melekhov accepted, too, that even though police have seized a greater haul of narcotics in the first half of this year than in the same period in 2001 - 16 tonnes compared to 14 - this is not an indication of better policing. Rather, it illustrates that the quantity of drugs being brought into the country is rising steadily.
Most drugs in Russia still come up from Afghanistan, through Central Asia. The crop currently growing in Afghanistan is expected to reach Russia's streets in the autumn.
But narcotics are also finding their way across Russia's long borders with China and Poland, and even from as far away as Latin America.