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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

On the Tippling Habits of Kremlin Leaders Past

Those who knew Lenin say he drank little. Nonetheless, like any ordinary person, he was not averse to having a sip or two of good wine. "Vladimir Ilyich quite spoiled himself," said his mother Anna Ilyinichna from abroad. "Instead of milk he drinks cognac." Grigory Zinoviev wrote: "Ilyich and I went for a bicycle ride in Hungary. We spoke with gypsies on the border, bought a bottle of bad wine and returned late at night."


"Drunken diplomacy" under Stalin by no means came last in his arsenal of leading negotiations. Chief Marshall Alexander Golovanov once told how Stalin gave a dinner in honor of Winston Churchill in Moscow. "Toasts were made one after the other and I watched after Stalin, for Churchill, who was famous for his drinking, sat at the table as if he we set to hold a drinking match with Stalin. Stalin kept up with him and when Churchill was taken away from the table to take a break, Stalin said to me: 'Why are you looking at me that way. Don't worry. I won't squander Russia on drink, and tomorrow he'll be turned around like a fish on a frying pan.'"


Vycheslav Molotov wrote that he was a genuine drinker. He loved champagne. It was his favorite wine. He always started with champagne. Then we drank Kindzmarauli and a little Khvanchkaru and sometimes Odzhakleshi as well. A lot. Until the war. But he drank little wine and rather preferred cognac.


Nikita Khrushchev drank quite a lot and in the most various circumstances, in different ways and places. In the Soviet Union and abroad, in special planes and special trains, in the special cafeteria near the Lenin Mausoleum, while he was out hunting, in the peasant houses, where he loved to "drop in for a little borshch."


No revolutionary holiday ever took place under Brezhnev without drinking spirits. There was a certain ritual which would gradually "lead to the festivities." At first the party and government leaders would stand on the rostrum of the Mausoleum as the holiday parades passed by and drink. For this purpose, the tribunal was equipped with tables and chairs that were not visible from Red Square. From time to time those who were standing would divide into two parties: the wavers and the drinkers.


And what does Boris Nikolayevich prefer? He is known to be rather well disposed to two new vodkas from the Kristal factories, Gzhelka and Privet. Both are made from spirits of high quality and especially pure water. As with most traditional vodkas, they have an alcohol content of 40 degrees. Drinking it to one's health is pleasant and easy.


Komsomolskaya Pravda, Jan. 21.





And on Abstinence


The ukaz of Ingushetian President Ruslan Aushev forbids the use of alcoholic drinks during Ramadan, the Moslem holy period between Jan. 23 and Feb. 24. The president's press secretary, Kureish Agasiyev, said the decision was taken in connection with believers in the republic who cannot eat or drink between sunrise and sunset during these days. In Ingushetia about 90 percent of the Moslem inhabitants agree that the fast should be held.


Komsomolskaya Pravda, Jan. 24.





Terror Reaches Schools


Certain schools in Moscow are resorting to highly unusual methods for purposes of ensuring the safety of their students.


In response to recent events in the northern Caucasus and to the general level of crime in the capital, parents committees at a number of schools have come up with a proposal to introduce a system of passes. More specifically, they have suggested issuing special ID cards with the bearer's photograph and vital statistics. Only students carrying these passes would be allowed into the classroom.


So far only a few schools have decided to institute the special pass system. In Moscow's department of education, we learned that although no regulations on this exist, there is nothing illegal about instituting such a system of special passes in schools. Meanwhile, the question of whether such a system will be introduced citywide is in the hands of school directors and parents committees.


Moskovsky Komsomolets, Jan. 26





New Old Arbat


Almost without notice, the streetlamps on the Old Arbat have been replaced by new ones which have made the street old again.


Moskovskiye Novosti, Jan. 25