A prominent member of the youth wing of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's United Russia party says he has been snorting cocaine and taking ecstasy pills for years, according to an interview published on Thursday.
United Russia, the de facto ruling party, advocates family values and a healthy life style. Its members include many famous sportsmen and showbiz celebrities. "The most terrible period is over now, and I am happy I have mustered up my will (to fight drug addiction)," pop singer Vlad Topalov, 22, told the Moskovsky Komsomolets popular daily. He said he had sniffed cocaine for the last four years.
The peroxide blond heartthrob, one of the best known faces in the pro-Kremlin Young Guard movement, is hugely popular with teenage girls in Russia and other ex-Soviet states. Young Guard leaders could decide to exclude the singer from their ranks because of the interview, a Young Guard activist told the Ekho Moskvy radio station. Topalov said he had suffered temporary kidney failure, fell out with his father and his drug abuse was a reason for the break-up of a popular singing duet.