[Presenter] Russian citizens stand up against bureaucrats. A public rally is being held in the centre of Moscow in protest against mass repression by Gosnarkokontrol [Federal Service for Control Over the Trafficking of Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances]. Human rights activists are receiving more and more appeals from ordinary people, who have been victimized by Gosnarkokontrol. The so-called ketamine cases [instigated by Gosnarkokontrol against veterinary surgeons in 2005] are still fresh in the public's memory, but the bureaucrats have found new victims producers of chemical solvent agents. The rally entitled Day of Freedom is being held in Pushkinskaya Ploshchad [square] today. It is attended by our correspondent, Artem Vasnev. So, Artem, who is taking part in the rally and whom are they trying to protect?
[Correspondent] The people behind me are confident that the Russian antidrug police [Gosnarkokontrol] have launched a campaign against people who have nothing to do with illegal drug trafficking. The authorities are after the country's chemists, who have become the next target of the ongoing antidrug campaign after veterinary surgeons and doctors specializing in drug abuse treatment. Over 1,500 criminal cases have been instigated against the chemical industry's chief executives and distributors of chemical agents for the past two years. Let's listen to the son of an arrested CEO.
[Denis Protskiy, captioned as the son of the arrested Aleksey Protskiy] Gosnarkokontrol is charging us [the company headed by Aleksey Protskiy] with [unauthorized] trade in diethyl ether for medical purposes. But all our customers are industrial consumers.
[Corespondent] All the cases [against chemical industry managers] fit in the same pattern Gosnarkokontrol officers come to an enterprise, find out that the company has no proper licence [to deal with certain agents] and put forward criminal charges. But the chemists say that these criminal cases are unjustified. There are serious lapses in the Russian legislation [regulating turnover of drugs], they say, and until the trade in the so-called precursors, or agents that can be used both for legal and illegal purposes, is properly regulated by the state, all the criminal charges against chemists must be withdrawn.
[Passage omitted: minor details of the case against Aleksey Protskiy]
[Correspondent] Lev Fedorov, the chair of the Chemical Security Association, says that diethyl ether, the fluid that boils at 30 degrees Celsius and used as a solvent for industrial purposes and as an anaesthetic in medicine, is used for production of illegal drugs just as often as petrol, acetone and vinegar.
[Fedorov] It [diethyl ether] has never been labelled as a substance for making illegal drugs, it is sheer nonsense.
[Correspondent] In the Moscow office of Gosnarkokontrol we were shown documents with details of criminal proceedings against Aleksey Protskiy and told that he and his deputy, Yana Yakovleva, were arrested and imprisoned six months ago because they had failed to report for interrogation by the investigators.
The charges against Protskiy and Yakovleva are based on the information obtained from an illegal drugs manufacturer arrested earlier, [investigator] Aleksandr Kozlov says. The drugs manufacturer told the investigators he used diethyl ether, purchased from Protskiy's firm, to produce methadone. After that the firm's warehouse was searched and the controversial fluid confiscated. The investigators have so far failed to prove a criminal conspiracy between the illegal drug manufacturer and Protskiy. But they say they have revealed unauthorized trade in chemical agents.
[Kozlov, captioned as the head of the Gosnarkokontrol's investigation department in Moscow] We have lots of evidence, evidence proven by documents and saying that Protskiy's company acquired and supplied to their customers diethyl ether produced specifically for medical purposes, not for industrial needs.
[Passage omitted to end: correspondent reminds the audience of the ketamine cases and the drug authorities' attempts to ban publication of books mentioning illegal drugs abuse.]
(c) 2007 BBC Monitoring Former Soviet Union. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.