EDITORIAL: Alcoholic Russia


Alcoholic Russia

What girl doesn't love a Russian man loaded down with vodka?

What girl doesn't love a Russian man loaded down with vodka?

As with most things where Russia, one of the most dishonest and dissembling nations on the face of the Earth, is concerned, it’s hard to get reliable information about the extent of the country’s epidemic of alcoholism.

But here’s a truly staggering factoid:  Even though 70% of Russia’s alcohol consumption comes in the form of vodka, Russians drink so much that their 30% residual consumption is still enough to make Russia the third-largest beer market on the planet.

Dig a little deeper, and you unearth facts that are truly breathtaking both in their implications and their contradictions.

In Juneof this year, for instance, the Kremlin-operated RIA Novosti newswire service reported that each Russian drinks 17 liters of spirits every year on average, and that this appalling abuse translates into 500,000 annual alcohol related fatalities.

But last month, RIA reported that the figure was 18 liters per person, more than double the level which the World Health Organization identifies as indicating a critical public health crisis.  It quoted Rashid Nurgaliyev, the Kremlin’s Interior Minister:  “The average age of people admitting to drinking alcohol has come down from 16 to 13 years. The total number of children aged 10-14 who drink alcoholic spirits rose 15.4% in 2008 (10.85 million).”  Despite these horrifying statistics, Russia still lets citizens drink at age 18 (whereas, in the US for instance, you have to be 21). Dima Medvedev himself has cited the 18-liter figure, so there must be something to it.

These figures are starkly at variance with those found in 2004 by WHO itself, which indicated Russians only consumed 10.58 liters (even at that level, though, ranking in the top 25 countries in the world for per capital alcohol consumption).  Has Russian consumption really increased by 80% in four years?  Or was WHO really that far off base?  In 2004, according to WHO, there was only one country on the planet with per capita consumption of 18 or more liters of alcohol.  Has Russia really vaulted into #2 position?  It seems clear that it has, all under the stewardship of Vladimir Putin.

And what is the response of the Medvedev regime to this crisis?  Even though 70% of the alcohol consumed by Russians is vodka, the government is planning to ignore that and impose a 200% excise tax on beer.  If you immediately think encouraging drinkers to move from beer to vodka (whose tax will only increase 10%) is, well, kind of insane — welcome to Vladimir Putin’s Russia!

Granted, he’s got an axe to grind, but what thinking person can disagree with Anton Artemiev, chief executive of St. Petersburg-based Baltika Brewery, when he warns:  “I find it very hard to understand the logic behind the disproportionate increase of excise duty on beer compared to strong alcohol, which will inevitably favor the consumption of hard alcohol, including vodka, and is bound to have a negative effect on alcohol abuse in the Russian society.”

We find it hard, too.  In fact, we think the people who came up with this “plan” were almost certainly drunk when they did so.  Not for a second do these geniuses stop to ask themselves whether maybe, just maybe, they ought to consider doing something about the sickening conditions of everyday life that drive Russians to drink.  And they don’t dare try to regulate vodka, knowing it’s one of the very few acts that could actually motivate Russians to take political action against the regime. So instead they flail about and end up enacting policy that can only make things much, much worse.

And so it goes in Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

22 responses to “EDITORIAL: Alcoholic Russia

  1. Steamed McQueen

    Here’s something that might be worth looking into:

    Several years ago, Baltika breweries were purchased by a foreign concern -I believe it was Heineken- This effectively took the brewery out of Russian control.

    Vodka – Made in Russia, by Russians in a Russian company

    Beer- Also made in Russia by Russians but the parent company is foreign, thereby making the product ‘ not Russian’

    Add a healthy dose of Russian xenophobia and it’s pretty easy to see where the whole scheme draws it’s inspiration from.

    Russians, as usual are not thinking long term about the consequences but that has never mattered to Russians who seem to be wholly incapable of thinking beyond the immediate now.

  2. I disagree that lifting drinking age from 18 to 21 would solve anything. I mean really, it’s Russia. Not a single shop-owner is intrested how old you are as long as you pay for youre booze.


    By that logic, murder should be legal since people will murder anyway. It would send the message that drinking is bad and kids shouldn’t do it. At least that would be better than nothing, though to be sure it would have to be followed up with more policy actions.

    • There’s a lot of legal murder in Russia, including by “law enforcers”.

    • Russia’s outlaws outlawing vodka:

      In Ingushetia, another owner of alcohol-selling shop shot dead
      aug 10 2009, 21:00

      According to the source of the “Caucasian Knot” correspondent, businessmen are already afraid of trading in alcohol. “The whole republic has only three places left where vodka is sold – Evloev’s shop was one of them,” Vakha Chapanov has added.

      The head of the “Maximum” reminded that in the end of March Evloev’s neighbour Sonya Darakueva, who also traded in alcohol, was also shot dead. And earlier, in the village Troitskaya, Sunzha District, two sisters – Zinaida Mazieva and Khava Tachieva – were assassinated for the same business.

    • Einstein said “Pass no law you cannot or will not enforce.”

  3. I suppose increasing the tax on vodka to the extent they are doing with beer would alienate Putin’s largest base of supporters – blind drunk zombies.

  4. Drunks are much easier to herd than the sober.

    Putin has no intention of cleaning up the horrific nationwide vodka binging.

  5. Is it true that Kim Zigfeld, your “fearless founding frump,” lost her rather unremarkable husband, Norman, to a beautiful blonde Russian female from Vladivostok, and has now pledged her every waking moment to exacting revenge from the Mother Russia? Curious in Kansas.

    • Is the same also true of Kremlin-run newswire RIA Novosti, which is the source of the data in this report? And of Dima Medvedev, who has confirmed it publicly?

      Ah, the power of the vast Russophobic conspiracy! Truly awesome and terrifying.

  6. Pingback: Reasonandjest.com » Alcoholic Russia, Afghanistan Lies, Nobel Peace Prize and War

  7. The point to realise is that alcohol regulation in Russia is controlled by the vodka lobby.

    Earlier this year, the new head of the alcohol market regulator, Igor Chuyan, proposed actually cutting the tax on vodka. Guess what his previous job was? Head of Russia’s largest vodka producer.

    I kid you not:


  8. Russian pilot grounded after alcohol test

    MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s S7 Airlines says a pilot was barred from a flight from Germany to Russia after traces of alcohol were found in his system.

    Airline spokeswoman Irina Kolesnikova said the pilot had been set to make a flight from Frankfurt to the Russian city of Novosibirsk Saturday.

    She said the pilot claims the test discovered residue from medicine he had taken, but that he will be fired if it is confirmed he had been drinking.

    Frankfurt police said the test found a blood alcohol level of about 0.05 percent — the limit for driving a car in Germany and nearly twice the limit in Russia. Russian state TV said there were 150 passengers aboard the Airbus A320, which eventually made the flight with another pilot.

    S7, also known as Sibir, is one of Russia’s largest airlines.



    Nice! How long before Moscow gets accidently straffed or bombed?

  9. Jasmina
    If your history have been true it would be appropriate simple explanation of her madness and of this blog`s asylum too.

  10. I seldom watch your asylum`s blabber LR. So I`m not inhabitant of your bedlam.


    If you seldom watch, then how dare you claim to know what happens here?

    Illiterate, moronic doofus!

  11. LR
    Because of your blog`s obvious madness. It did not take a lot of time to diagnose of LR`s admirers. All of them are morons and oafs.

    • Umm, so you think you can “diagnose” our blog WITHOUT SPENDING TIME READING IT?

      Uh, OK ape.

      Here’s a partial list of some of our admirerers:

      New York Review of Books
      Washington Post
      Associated Press
      Moscow Times
      American Spectator
      Little Green Footballs

      Who are YOUR admirers? Ghosts of Stalin and Hitler? Do you have any idea what a total jackass you are making of yourself with every additional word?

  12. And, all the statistics about alcohol consumption ignores how much “samogon” is distilled in village izbas and city apartments across the fair Russian land or the “medical” ethanol that is consumed by Russians…. Then there is the counterfeit vodka that is sold and poisons untold Russians every year. The official stats are bad, the real numbers would be terrifying, and the Russophiles will as usual deny the truth or stick their heads in the sand…

  13. I would like to add something constructive to the mix here. When discussing the Russian penchant for drink with Russians they often make reference to their genetic inheritance, if I understand correctly. I have never quite understood exactly what it is that they are claiming about the link between the two. And I do mean exactly what is the link? Someone out there really ought to press this matter further than it has been pressed so far. Of course, it almost certainly is just a convenient excuse for bad personal behavior. Trying to fob off responsibility onto their social/peer group for their own personal irresponsibility. There are even some who claim that Russians are born bad or disproportionately bad too, so you see how serious this thing could get. It has always struck me as odd that Slavs resent Germanic racial theorising about them but don’t quite seem to realize that you can’t have it both ways. (nb. in Gromyko’s autobiography his statements about being invited to the home of a well bred Anglo Saxon in Virginia. Read between the lines.) You cannot claim possible group genetic inferiority when it comes to your personal vices and then get all in a huff when others extend themselves on this topic to your dislike. Russian claims about their alcoholism are honestly just not that far removed from other kinds of commentary if you get my drift. (Eg. Irish and Koreans being emotional, gossipy, conflict prone, less intelligent on average, and inclined to addictive behavior. All on average of course.) Even if you account for a proclivity among some ethnic groups to engage in addictive behavior it’s not going to happen if you don’t start in the first place let me remind you! I would love to hear from a Russian horse’s mouth about this “genetic” matter.

  14. LR
    You have listed the most outrgeous liars. Of course you cost each other!


    Well since you “think” anyone who dares to criticize Russia is a “liar” it hardly matters what you “think,” ignoramus. You make Russia look like a nation of apes.

  15. Wait this website exists ONLY to make Russia look bad? That’s really pathetic dude….your parents must be proud!

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