Take a gasp-inducing look at Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury’s unknown last image: in a wheelchair, close to death from AIDS due to drug use. Hey… if you don’t like it, move to Russia! Illegal drug use in Russia really took off after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991; particularly injectable drugs like heroin and, amongst children and teens, the use of chemical inhalants. The numbers of cases appear to be tapering off somewhat in these last few years, perhaps partially due to a touring anti-drug wax figure exhibition traveling the country since 2002. Called “On The Brink,” (click for gallery) the odd series of grisly/surreal dioramas was created by the country’s Federal Drug Control Service, and has had a steady schedule at schools and town halls. As with most anti-drug propaganda, the point is to show by example the horrid consequences. Typical frozen scenarios focus on a drug user’s last moments; cold, alone, unhappy and looking too old for what age they are supposed to be. Besides the mise-en-scènes, visitors are shown a dozen jars of formalin containing damaged internal organs of drug addicts, and a the preserved fetus of a deformed baby born to a drug-using mother. The organizers even provide liquid ammonia, to resuscitate anyone who faints from revulsion at the sight of disfigured wax faces jones-ing for ‘ludes. Georgii, a 20 year-old man recently told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty news after leaving the exhibit; “I am in a kind of trance, especially after the video we had to watch. I can’t find words, I can’t think straight. This hasn’t happened to me for a long time, I just can’t find the words.”

– (thanks to Jim for the tip)