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Friday, April 13, 2007

The "Russian Solution" to Putin: Alcoholic Stupor

Australia's Herald Sun reports:

RUSSIA'S average annual alcohol consumption has reached 15 litres per person, nearly tripling the 1990 average of 5.4 litres, the country's consumer protection agency said today.

"The ever higher consumption of alcohol by adolescents and women is especially worrying and significantly increases the risk of the appearance of alcohol-related illnesses," said the agency, called Rospotrebnadzor. The new average was also far higher than the 9.7 litres of alcohol Russians put away in 2005, when some 2.3 million of the country's 142 million people were considered alcoholics, according to Rospotrebnadzor. While Russians still drink a lot of vodka, they are consuming ever more beer and other drinks with low alcohol levels. The production of such drinks increased six-fold between 1998 and 2006, and sales were multiplied by three over the same period. Last year, 12 billion litres of alcohol were sold in Russia, of which 75 per cent was beer, 16 per cent vodka and other hard liquor, eight per cent wine and one per cent cognac. The number of alcohol-linked deaths meanwhile dropped to 28,386 in 2006 from 40,877 a year earlier {LR: that's only if you believe the Kremlin's data}, but they still represented 12 per cent of all deaths in Russia {LR: because Russia's population keeps getting smaller and smaller}. The sale of home-brewed alcohol also continued to kill. 1074 people died after drinking bad moonshine last year alone, according to Rospotrebnadzor. The agency said five per cent of alcohol sold in 2006 did not conform to sanitary criteria, up from 2.6 per cent a year earlier. Australian Bureau of Statistics figures for alcohol consumption in Australia in 2004-05 by those aged 15 years and over was 9.8 litres per person.

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