“Road 184” is a movie about the Estonian Community of People who Use Psychotropic Substances, LUNEST, the first officially registered Estonian organization that protects the rights of drug users. Today, LUNEST unites people who speak different languages and have different citizenship, as well as those who do not have any citizenship in Estonia.
The association represents and defends the legitimate rights of people who use drugs, aiming to reduce their discrimination, stigma and harassment, to repeal the deportation law, to liberalize the state drug policy, etc.
“Road 184” is a story about incredible people, where each person is a road full of pain, love and hope.
Elena Antonova, founder of LUNEST, says: “I think that people are becoming activists after all. Because to be an activist, to have people coming to you, you have to go a certain way. If you don’t have any life experience, if you haven’t felt it all on your own, if you haven’t had a bit of it, then you can’t talk about the pain people are experiencing or the discomfort they are experiencing.
Watching a movie “Road 184” is an opportunity to spend several days with LUNEST, drive hundreds of kilometers and visit several cities – Tallinn, Jõhvi, Kohtla-Järve, Narva.
These are the “hot spots” on the map of Estonia, where the organization operates today. LUNEST has several projects, which the community implements together with its partners, and all of them are directed to the realization of the set goals. One of them is the SÜTIK project. This is analogous to the American LEAD model of referral of people who use drugs instead of criminal punishment to various services by the organization’s support persons.
Another project is the provision of free legal aid to community members. To date, this service is not available to many people who use drugs. The obstacle is the money issue: the help is free of charge only for the first time, and then you have to pay for the preparation and translation of documents. The project provides for the protection of rights, freedoms and legitimate interests in government and in courts not only for people who use drugs, but also for their families. Legal assistance in this project is free of charge for clients.
LUNEST constantly reacts to cases of deportation and requires changing the existing system in relation to those who live in Estonia but do not have citizenship of this country. The situation is related to the fact that today people who have never lived or even been to Russia are sent to this country and they are forced to leave without the right to return to Estonia. This applies mainly to people who use drugs. All of that indicated that the laws in force governing the invalidation of a long-term resident’s residence permit were not suitable for foreigners born and permanently resident in Estonia.
These are just a few examples of what LUNEST does today. Of course, Estonia is a country based on the rule of law, but the topic of prevention among people who use drugs is cornered and discredited. Prohibitions and harassment do not produce any positive results, so the community is doing what no one else in Estonia is doing, and this experience is unique for the region of Eastern Europe and Central Asia.