Tuesday, February 14, 2017

More than Half of Hard Alcohol Russians Drink is Illegal or in Form of Surrogates, Russian Ministry Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 14 – The Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade says that unregistered and thus illegal hard alcohol, primarily in the form of samogon, and surrogates like cleansers make up 50 to 70 percent of national, figures that suggest alcohol consumption there is twice to almost two and a half times greater than Moscow typically acknowledges.

            That in turn means that Russia almost certainly leads the world in per capita consumption of hard alcohol, something that in recent years it has been at pains to deny, and that a very large share of Russian drinkers are at risk from alcohol or chemical poisoning or even death from surrogates (ria.ru/society/20170213/1487885922.html).

                The admission came in a report on the more than 70 people who died from drinking a cleanser in Irkutsk, a choice they supposedly made because legal alcohol was “inaccessible to a large swath of the population both by price and by location and one that was made easier by the fact, the ministry said, that a third of stores selling alcohol are prepared to sell its illegal forms.

                Duma deputies have reacted by repeating their earlier calls for a crackdown, their support for the ministry’s plan to limit the sale of hard alcohol close to schools, universities, hospitals and kindergartens, and their urging exclusion zones be expanded from 25 meters to 300 or even more (znak.com/2017-02-13/minpromtorg_ozvuchil_prichinu_massovogo_otravleniya_boyaryshnikom_v_irkutskoy_oblasti).

                The ministry’s announcement also led to broader criticism of the Putin regime.  Anatoly Baranov, the editor of the FORUM.msk portal said that if what the ministry says is true, implying that things may be even more dire, then the situation with regard to alcoholism “is even worse than it was under [Yeltsin]” (forum-msk.org/material/news/12820977.html ).

            That does not speak well of a Russian president who has presented himself as a healthy model and promoter of sobriety.

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