Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Pandemic, War and Sanctions Causing Russians to Drink More, New Data from Outside Moscow Show

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 10 – Surveys taken in St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg show that over the last two years, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Putin’s war in Ukraine, and the imposition of Western sanctions, Russians are drinking significantly more, and the number of alcoholics is rising.

            Reports on these surveys can be found at gorod-812.ru/v-borbe-s-krizisom-5-stali-menshe-est-stolko-zhe-bolshe-pit/ and ura.news/articles/1036284362.

            This trend is not surprising, but one thing about it is notable: it can be seen only in surveys done at the regional level rather than at the all-Russian one, yet another way in which the Kremlin’s approach of farming out responsibility for problems is affecting even sociological data that used to be provided at the national level.

            On the one hand, this is a clear sign that the rulers that be in Putin’s Russia don’t want people to pay attention to this trend. But on the other, it is also an indication that those in Russia and abroad who want to find out what is happening in Russia as a whole must pay more attention to regional outlets than they have traditionally done.

            In Soviet times, most journalists there kept to the rule that one could criticize but not generalize, that is, they could report on specific problems but not suggest that these problems were widespread. This regionalization of information on problems is in many respects an updated version of that.

            Now, those who want to track what is going on in Russia must look to sources beyond the ring road and then sum them together rather than assuming that everything important will be covered in Moscow. Because of Putin’s repression, that assumption is no longer justified; and so the regional media outlets are becoming that much more important.

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