Drunken Russian Killers
When a TU-134 jet went down in Petrozavodsk, Russia on June 20th this year, some people (the Russian government included) wanted to blame the aging plane itself. Now, they own the poor plane an apology.
The 47 Russians who lost their lives on that flight were not killed by the plane, nor were they killed by any “evil” Chechen terrorist. They were killed by a fellow Russian, the navigator of the plane Aman Atayev. He was drunk at the wheel.
So even if the passengers had been flying in a brand new Boeing aircraft made in America with the latest technology, they still would not have been safe. Atayev’s mother says he turned to drinking as a result of his recent divorce, yet another omnipresent Russian social ill. She says so as if he were somehow the innocent victim of that divorce, but in fact one Russian man murders his wife every forty minutes, so it’s quite likely he brutalized his wife emotionally or physically or both, and that’s why she left him.
Dima Medvedev has suddenly started blabbing about illegal narcotics. Mark Lawrence Schrad, an assistant professor of political science at Villanova University and the author of The Political Power of Bad Ideas: Networks, Institutions and the Global Prohibition Wave, writing in the New York Times, explains why:
IN an effort to reduce both its sky-high alcoholism rate and its budget gap, Russia recently announced plans to quadruple the tax on the country’s eternal vice, vodka, over the next three years.
But while the move might be well intentioned, the long history of liquor taxation in Russia exposes a critical obstacle in the path of any anti-drinking campaign: the Kremlin’s own addiction to liquor revenues, which has derailed every previous effort to wean Russians from their tipple.
Russia, Nation of Drunken Murderers
Last week on the Sea of Azov (Russian-language source), six young campers drowned after being allowed to swim in a prohibited area and being sucked under by dangerous riptides, while three drunken teachers were supposed to be supervising scratched themselves like apes on the beach. Three other children were hospitalized, one in critical condition.
It is no stereotype, no prejudice, just simple undeniable fact: Russia is a land of drunken murderers. Russians pay no more attention to the election of their leaders than they do to the care of their children; instead, they pay attention to the best way of laying hands on 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.
Do you dare imagine how many are consumed by an “above average” Russian adult? Voice of America reports:
New studies find that about a million people in Russia die each year from alcohol and tobacco related illnesses. And in several recent years, more than half of all Russian deaths between the ages of 15 and 54 were caused by alcohol.
In Russia, deaths outnumber births these days.
Putin the Puritan
Perhaps for the first time since Vladimir Putin took power, the people of Russia last week got a crystal clear image of what their lives would be like a decade from now if Putin is allowed to become “president for life” like Sadaam Hussein of Iraq. It is not a pretty picture.
At one stroke, just as if he were Stalin, Putin shut down every formerly legal gambling casino in the country and threw hundreds of thousands of Russian workers onto the unemployment lines. Just as many contended Russia could “never go back” to a Soviet style of living, many believed Putin would never carry through on his Puritan threat to close the casinos, at least not while unemployment was in double digits and the economy was foundering badly.
But he has done it. And that’s not all he has done.
Paul Goble reports that Vladimir Putin is wiping out Russia’s male population far more effectively than Adolf Hitler ever dreamed of doing:
Extremely high mortality rates among Russian men in prime child-bearing ages, far larger than those in other developed countries and largely the result of alcohol consumption and drug abuse, are undercutting not only Moscow’s efforts to solve the country’s demographic problems by pro-natalist policies but its hopes to modernize the Russian economy.