Staunton, April 27 – The Russian health ministry is trumpeting the fact that sales of alcohol in Russian stores have fallen by 40 percent over the last 12 years, a trend that it says demonstrates that Russians are drinking almost half as much now as they were at that time (life.ru/t/новости/1111779/rossiianie_stali_na_40_mienshie_pit_alkoghol_za_posliedniie_12_liet).
But sociologists and those who track drinking in Russia say that there has been little or no decline in consumption of alcohol. Instead, Russians are making up for any cutback in their purchases of alcohol with moonshine or surrogates that typically are far more hazardous to their health than the store-bought kind (ura.news/articles/1036274697
And Aleksandr Romanov, another expert on alcohol production in Russia, says that he finds it “hard to believe” that Russians have cut back much in their consumption of alcohol but that he is certain that as long as Russians remain poor, they will continue to choose moonshine and surrogates rather than the officially approved brands.
That choice has tragic consequences: moonshine and even more surrogates like perfumes and cleaning supplies often make people sick or even kill them, something that only adds to Russia’s demographic problems. Consequently, what Russian officials are presenting as a triumph – the cutback in sales of alcohol – in fact is a tragedy.