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article imageRussia's President Dmitry Medvedev declares war on drinking

By Andrew Moran     Aug 23, 2009 in World
The United States had prohibition. Russia's Gorbachev attempted banning alcohol. Now Russia's current President Dmitry Medvedev will experiment with the War on Drinking. Will he be successful?
"Alcoholism has reached the proportions of a national disaster," says Russian President Dmitry Medvedev who has proposed new legislation that would curb alcohol drinking within the Russian Federation, according to Time.
At a recent meeting that was devoted to the problem of drinking, Pres. Medvedev said that other countries who have tried this measure in the past were not successful however, Russia should learn from experiences in the past, "no matter what people say about it being too deep-rooted in our culture, about it being practically impossible to fight alcoholism in Russia."
The President has proposed several new methods that would attempt to curb drinking such as: "stop the rise in alcohol consumption among young people." The second task would be to apply new changes to the regulation of the sale of beer and other low-alcohol content beverages.
In terms of education on the topic, Pres. Medvedev says that Russia should “make use of all the possibilities the education system and mass media offer.”
A final plan to fight the problem will be introduced at the end of 2009, according to the Minister of Healthcare and Social Development Tatyana Golikova. Golikova did cite statistics that show that Russia now is consuming 10 liters per capita of strong alcohol per annum however, she did state that many scientists believe the figure is actually 18 liters and further added, “Between 1914 and 1917, the alcohol consumption level was 3.4 liters per capita. This may have been the lowest alcohol consumption in all of Europe.”
Several analysts are cautious about this new proposal by the President and believe that the success of it will all depend on Medvedev. They pontificate then-President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev’s crackdown of alcohol during the oil crisis when the prices were plummeting, "Hard drinking is a phenomenon of the later Soviet period, the 1980s," says Sergey Mikheev, analyst with the Center of Political Technologies, who does not believe the statistics are accurate.
Political Analyst Dmitry Oreshkin says, according to Russia Today, “It is not difficult to raise prices. But we should understand that drinking is a habit and a social reality. It cannot be just prohibited, it has to be redirected.”
Agvan Mikaelyan, director general of the Finexpertiza consultancy told Nezavisimaya Gazeta Daily, reports Russia Today, that the number of people who drink or don’t drink will not affect prices of alcohol nor the availability of it, “One should advertise the good and promote a healthy lifestyle rather than fight the evil.”
According to a new opinion poll by the All-Russian Public Opinion Study Center, 65 per cent of respondents would support a new anti-alcohol campaign, while 8 per cent disapprove of the initiative and 21 per cent are completely against a campaign. However, 63 per cent support banning the selling of alcohol to people under the age of 21.
The survey further shows that 57 per cent of respondents support a ban on alcohol advertising, 47 per cent want a campaign that promotes healthy living and 34 per cent say drinking alcohol in public places should be a criminal offence.
Russian health minister Tatyana Golikova is showing exuberance and optimism about this new campaign by suggesting that “our national alcohol consumption will decrease to 14 liters per capita by 2012.”
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