MOSCOW, May 4 - RAPSI. Yevgeny Bryun, the chief drug abuse expert at the Healthcare and Social Development Ministry, has spoken out against the introduction of criminal responsibility for drug abuse.

The Federal Drug Control Service has prepared a draft law allowing for criminal responsibility for drug abuse. The service hopes that the draft law will be considered by the State Duma this year. The service proposes punishing drug addicts who systematically break the law.

It also proposes sending them for treatment for minor crimes as an alternative to punishment.

"We are against criminal responsibility for drug abuse," Bryun said at a news conference in Moscow. "We have other mechanisms. We have testing, but no law. The State Duma deputies would be better off drafting legislation to prevent drug addiction and alcoholism."

According to Bryun, there are 550,000 drug addicts in Russia, while four-five million people have taken drugs at least once. Bryun said it is impossible to put five million people in prison.

Earlier, Bryun said there are several groups of drug consumers -- ordinary consumers, who have used psychotropic substances several times in their lives, consumers of drugs with dangerous consequences, drug addicts who require and agree to treatment, and a criminalized group of drug consumers, who are offered alternative treatment instead of prison time.