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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Россия в раковине гайки (Russia in a nutshell)

One of the lead stories in the Moscow Times yesterday was captioned:

Alcohol Reform has Lethal Consequences
The country has seen a spike in the number of people who have died or suffered illnesses in the past six weeks from drinking disinfectants following a government campaign to purge stores of fake liquor.

That's right. Russian launches an attempt to protect people from alcohol and more people are injured by it after the attempt than were harmed before it was made. That's Russia in a nutshell. The campaign sharply increased the price of alcohol, driving more and more people to use the dangerous stuff. When asked about these fatalities, a government official is quoted as saying: ""These people are mostly from dysfunctional families, homeless or unemployed. Two or three [of the victims] are young people who drank the alcohol accidentally, but the rest have unhealthy lifestyles." In other words, "good riddance." About 40,000 people are estimated to die annually in Russia from alcohol poisoning; the country experiences a net annual population loss of nearly 1 million.

And that's not the half of it. Because not only has that "campaign" increased the number of fatalities, it's also resulted in the disappearance of many safe forms of alcohol from Russia's shelves, including such things as French wine. And all this while Russians are screeching to high heaven about the evil influence of Georgian vino on Russian society.

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