Russian leader wants pot, prostitution made legal
A lawmaker in a city government in Russia has called on Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to legalise prostitution and cannabis in his city in Russia's Kaliningrad exclave to help boost tourism. Valery Pryzhkov, a member of the government of the Baltic seaside resort of Svetlogorsk city, and a member of the ruling United Russia party, said the move would also help fight against HIV in the region.
There are about 4,000 people living with HIV in the exclave. "We can use the successful European experience and set up an experimental platform in the region," Pryzhkov said in a letter to Putin, the newkaliningrad.ru web portal reported.
Russia has around five million drug users and has been one of the worst-affected countries by drugs trafficked from Central Asia. President Dmitry Medvedev has called Afghan heroin a threat to Russia's national security.
Pryzhkov also called for the transfer of Russia's four specially-designated gambling zones -- now being built in the region -- to Svetlogorsk. "The region is promising for the development of business tourism and cooperation between Russian and European businesses," Pryzhkov said.
However, similar initiatives in other Russian regions have ended in failure. There was even a reported attempt to start a red light district in Moscow in the 1990s but it was also unsuccessful.