Teenage Issues in Russia

Information on some of the issues that affect young people, including teen pregnancy, alcohol and drug use, and the laws surrounding them in Russia…

Alcohol and Smoking

The sale or consumption of alcohol and tobacco products is not permitted for people younger than 18 years of age. In practice, however, many teenagers experiment with alcohol and cigarettes from younger ages, such as 16. In February 2012 the State Duma proposed an increase in the legal age for alcohol and tobacco consumption to 21, but this has not yet been finalised.

Drugs

Drugs are illegal in Russia. Possession of hard drugs, particularly cocaine and heroine, and trafficking of them carry prison sentences and fines. Teenagers are very vulnerable to drug abuse, especially in provinces. While the state is trying to solve the problem through legislation, individuals and groups foster solutions by offering direct help.

One of the best-known examples is City Without Drugs (Gorod bez narkotikov / ????? ??? ??????????) a charity operating in Yekaterinburg since 1999. The charity claims to have reduced deaths from drug overdoses to one twelfth of the previous number.

  • For sources of more information as well as groups dealing with alcohol and drugs problems, among other issues, see the Guide, Support Groups

Pregnancy

The age of consent in Russia is 16 years. Teenage pregnancy in Russia has been on the rise for the past 30 years, constituting nearly 18 percent of the entire birth rate in the country, but sex education programmes are not officially endorsed.

In 2012 the State Duma suggested the fining of teenagers who enter into a sexual relationship before the age of consent, but this is an issue that often surfaces and doesn’t look as if any decision will be made any time soon.

Abortion

Abortion is currently legal in Russia. Up until the 12th week of pregnancy, an abortion can be performed upon request, and every insured woman over the age of 16 can have a termination free of charge. In-between the 12th and 22nd weeks, a pregnancy can only be terminated if it was a result of rape. If in the case of medical reasons, it can be terminated at any time.

Although Russia was one of the first countries in the 20th century to allow abortion in all circumstances, recently there have been calls to ban abortion. The anti-abortion campaign is strongly encouraged and fostered by the Russian Orthodox Church.