Russia: Drug-dealing case against mother of incurably ill child must be dropped

Responding to news that the mother of an incurably ill child in Russia is facing up to eight years in jail for offering to sell anti-epileptic drugs to other parents who need them, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia Marie Struthers said:

“The criminal case against Yekaterina Konnova exemplifies the inhumanity of the Russian criminal justice system, which prioritizes drug-busting statistics ahead of the dignity of the human person and public interest. The Russian authorities should protect vulnerable members of society, not prosecute them as easy targets to boost the figures.

The criminal case against Yekaterina Konnova exemplifies the inhumanity of the Russian criminal justice system, which prioritizes drug-busting statistics ahead of the dignity of the human person and public interest
Marie Struthers, Amnesty International's Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia

“The very ‘detection’ of this crime by an undercover police official who searched for ‘criminals’ in online forums of parents of seriously ill children is reprehensible, especially when it is Russia’s own healthcare policies that compel parents to look for vital medicines online.

“If convicted and jailed, Yekaterina will lose custody of her children. This means her eldest son Yelisey will be placed in a state orphanage and her youngest son Arseny will end his days in a clinic without the care and medication he needs.”

Background

The criminal case against Yekaterina Konnova, a single mother of two, was publicly revealed by the charity organization House with Beacon.

Moscow police staged a sting operation and detained Konnova in June this year. She was accused of drug dealing for attempting to sell five spare child-dosage tubes of diazepam rectal gel, which is not licensed in Russia, to fellow parents of incurably ill children using a closed online group.

She had previously purchased the drugs on the same online forum and had used them to treat her son Arseny’s epileptic seizures.

As most modern anti-epileptic drugs for children are not licensed in Russia, parents are forced to buy them abroad or purchase them illegally on the black market.

Arseny, six, was born with esophageal atresia (lack of esophagus) and cerebral palsy. He is a patient at a hospice. Yekaterina has another son, Yelisey, who is 15 years old.