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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Fradkov Blames Poisonings on Subordinates

Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov blames three of his underlings for the wave of alcohol poisonings sweeping much of the country, Kommersant reported.

The deputy ministers targeted by the prime minister were Andrei Sharonov, deputy economic development and trade minister; Igor Rudenya, deputy agriculture minister; and Sergei Shatalov, deputy finance minister.

The three helped implement a centralized computer system in January that tracks all registered alcoholic beverages with new labels.

The system malfunctioned, leaving millions of bottles in storage awaiting new labels and allowing counterfeit alcohol to reach the marketplace.

The delay has reportedly cost roughly $1.5 billion in sales and $262 million in tax revenues.

As punishment, the deputy ministers are likely to give up one to two months of their monthly bonuses. Senior government officials' monthly bonuses frequently eclipse their regular salaries.

The alcohol poisonings, meanwhile, showed few signs of slowing over the weekend.

Two people died of poisoning after drinking industrial alcohol in Saratov. Another 13 people were hospitalized in the city, bringing the total of people treated to 265, Interfax reported.

The Volgograd, Tambov and Pskov regions have also seen high rates of alcohol poisoning.

No national totals have been made available by government officials.