Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Russian War on Drugs

. Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Well, vodka anyway:

The price of the cheapest half-liter vodka bottle will nearly double to a new minimum of 89 roubles ($2.95), according to the alcohol regulator's website www.fsrar.ru...Russia has moved to triple the excise duty on beer and is considering drastic limits on where and when beer can be sold, such as banning the sale on street side kiosks. ...

In 1985, the last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev declared a war on the traditional evil of alcohol abuse, ordering dramatic cuts in the production of wines and spirits and introducing strict controls on public consumption of alcohol.

The campaign triggered a surge in illegal production of low-quality home-brewed booze and the curbs dealt a blow to the popularity of Gorbachev, the author of the liberal Soviet reform known as Perestroika.

Via Reason, who explains why this is doomed to failure:

Because the average Russian drinks like an unemployed Foster Brooks, the Kremlin has decided to create a black market in booze from neighboring countries like Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, by levying an enormous tax on beer and vodka.

The story is interesting in its own right, not least because Gorby's ill-conceived alcohol battle was one of the missteps in the 1980s that led to the USSR's demise. But mainly I just wanted to re-post this video of some of Boris Yeltsin's greatest hits:


The Russian War on Drugs
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