Moldova: ‘We have a public enemy number one’

Image copyright Pavel Ruzimira Image caption Pavel Ruzimira says he spends more than half his salary on meth

In this city, every day, the news has nothing good to say about meth.

It’s the public enemy number one in Chisinau. The local TV station called the drug “a powerful weapon used by violent gangs and terrorist organisations”.

“They don’t want to stop it,” said one resident. “For them, it’s all about power and their money.”

The story was front-page news – and online comments were even more bewailing. One local government report said that the drug – a dangerous concoction of opium, alcohol and hormones – is causing “the crumbling of our environment and our social fabric”.

The issue is so serious, the authorities have added methamphetamines to their counter-measures against opioids.

But the consequences aren’t being seen anywhere near here in the centre of the country.

Yes, meth is sometimes seen in smoke-filled apartments on the city’s outskirts. There is a growing criminal network involved in the trade.

But from the drug’s home this is the world of cartoonists, photographers and fashion designers.

The first press picture of what is believed to be its use came from in Brussels, last year.

But the pills that kids here are consuming are not of the pill-popping, cocaine-fuelled variety.

They are far more expensive, and far more likely to last three or four hours in the addict’s body.

Many users say they have begun to realise the drug’s darkness and lethality.

Smoking them quickly feels like the end of the world.

But with meth, there is no antidote. The effect is unpleasant and long-lasting.

Meanwhile, the illusion of thrill-seeking, of casual use, is easily overlooked.

Online, the meth stories dominate, and those posts are shared around. And while they are now seeing some popular impact, sometimes meth abuse has even more damaging consequences.

As one recent marijuana-smoking student said: “The abuse of meth is the reverse of drugs like alcohol and cigarettes. Meth has increased the class divisions.”

The view this week of Chisinau from the BBC World Service station at the Press Club

To find out more about the BBC World Service in Moldova click here.

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