Russia: Wishing vodka an unhappy birthday

on 31/01/11 at 11:35 am

Booze News

Monday marked Vodka’s unofficial birthday – but health boss Gennady Onishchenko was not raises a glass to the national tipple.

As head of the health control agency Rospotrebnadzor he urged Russia to turn its back on the demon drink.

“Soon alcoholic drinks will be left in the past,” he predicted when he was speaking in front of the State Duma.

Alcohol has been dubbed Russia’s top problem for ages, and finally has been target on the legal level.

According to Onishchenko, pictured above, Russia produces 18 billion litres of different alcohol-containing products yearly, Lifenews reported.

Doubling the danger mark

According to the World Health Organisation an annual consumption of more than 8 litres of pure alcohol is dangerous.

Yet in Russia the average annual session totals 18 litres.

And that’s prompted a review of the country’s alcohol policies, something Onishchenko was debating with lawmakers.

An new anti-alcohol bill is set to be swept into law by the middle of next month.

“We are not going to delay it,” Yevgeny Fedorov, the economical policy and entrepreneurship committee’s head, told RIA Novosti.

The bill will tighten restrictions on alcohol production, licensing, distribution and sales, granting the regional authorities the right to introduce further restrictions.

A 2020 vision

But the plan is more far-reaching than it may seem.

Vladimir Putin has approved a concept that should cut alcohol consumption by 55 per cent, as well as wipe out Russia’s illegal spirits market completely by 2020.

Rising the minimum price for a half-litre bottle of vodka by 10 per cent is one of these measures, and since Jan 1, 2010 has been set at the level of 89 roubles ($2,99), RIA Novosti reported.

And promoting sports and a healthy lifestyle, together with prevention programmes should also help in this fight, officials believe.

Battling with tradition

However, Russian drinking traditions are older than the national drink itself.

Vodka in its modern form was introduced by Dmitry Mendeleyev, who presented his doctoral thesis “On Combining Water and Alcohol” on Jan. 31, 1865 in St. Petersburg.

But it was only in 1894 that Russian Vodka became standardised with 40 per cent of spirit, as recommended by the inventor of the periodic table.

And before then vodka could have from 38 to 70 per cent of pure alcohol.

Meanwhile the Russian love of a tipple dates back to the earliest days of Kievan Rus, according to folklore. Prince Vladimir himself, when opting to convert his people to Christianity rather than Islam, declared: “Drinking is the joy of the Slavic people.”

And more than 1,000 years later, many Russian revelers will happily raise a glass to that.

{SOURCE the Moscow News}

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