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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Alcohol Poisoning Deaths on the Rise

The death toll from alcohol poisoning continued to climb as industry experts debated the reintroduction of a state monopoly and the Interior Ministry trumpeted efforts to root out moonshine.

The latest casualties came Monday in the Pskov region, where two more people died overnight of hepatitis caused by severe intoxication. Fifteen people have now died in the northwestern region, and 427 people have been hospitalized, a spokesman for the regional government told Interfax.

In Irkutsk, 733 people remained hospitalized with hepatitis; of that, 172 were in grave condition. In Vladimir, 58 people have been diagnosed with the same ailment; one has died since mid-September.

A spike in alcohol-poisoning cases has also been seen in the Perm region, with 210 cases reported from mid-September through late October, including nine deaths; the Siberian city of Kirov, where 247 people have been hospitalized; and in the Saratov region, where three men have died since mid-October.

Meanwhile, Interior Ministry officials issued a statement Monday saying they seized 2.5 million liters of ethyl alcohol in the first nine months of 2006. In that period, the statement said, police checked 3,200 companies for illegal alcohol; one raid in the North Caucasus province of North Ossetia saw 12,000 bottles of illicit vodka confiscated.

Police in the southern region of Belgorod also confiscated about 4,600 liters of alcohol, including 1,000 liters of homemade vodka.

In the Pskov region, police have seized 6,000 liters of illegal alcohol.

Police across the country have also embarked on an information campaign as they seek to inform residents of the risks associated with drinking fake vodka, the Interior Ministry statement said.

Several regions are also seeking to buy out homemade vodka to prevent its distribution.

Health Ministry officials said Monday that they were analyzing the causes behind the recent rise in alcohol poisonings. A forthcoming report will help the government formulate its policy for combating the deadly trend, Deputy Health Minister Ruslan Khalfin said.

Vladimir Yarmosh, chairman of the Spiritprom association, said only a state monopoly on alcohol sales could restore order to the system. "Lack of a state monopoly creates conditions for borderless expansion of highly competitive black market products," Yarmosh said, Interfax reported.