Staunton, December 19 – Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Khloponin has responded favorably to requests from North Caucasian leaders to change Russian law so that they can limit or even ban the sale of alcohol in their republics by calling on the trade ministry to come up with amendments to existing legislation that will allow just that.
If approved, that change will be popular among those Muslims who do not drink; but it will almost certainly have another consequence Moscow may not yet have faced up to: Prohibition in the republics will only accelerate the outflow of ethnic Russians from them, making them more mono-ethnic and thus less easily controlled from the outside.
The only limiting factor, if one may call it that, is that the republics where the introduction of this measure is most likely are those like Chechnya where the share of ethnic Russians is already miniscule rather than in others where the fraction of ethnic Russians in the population is higher.
According to a Russian government press release, Khloponin has called on the trade and industry ministry to prepare proposed changes by the first quarter of 2016 in the law governing alcohol sales to allow republic governments to limit or even ban completely the sale of alcohol (onkavkaz.com/news/559-moskva-razreshila-kavkazu-polnostyu-zapretit-alkogol.html).
Chechnya’s Ramzan Kadyrov has been pressing for such a change for several years, and both he and the leaders of several other predominantly Muslim republics have already have been allowed to impose severe limitations in the sale of alcoholic beverages in their areas during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
If Khloponin’s request leads to a change of the law, Chechnya is thus the most likely republic to introduce prohibition. Ingushetia is likely to be next, with Daghestan the third most likely, and other north Caucasus republics more likely to introduce restrictions rather than outright bans.