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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Gryzlov Calls for Alcohol Monopoly

Itar-TassMen enjoying a shot or two of vodka, with snacks, on Tuesday in Kurgan.
State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov on Tuesday came out in favor of establishing a state monopoly on the sale of alcoholic beverages.

"It's not enough to ensure a state monopoly on the production and circulation of pure alcohol," Gryzlov said in comments carried by Interfax. "I think it's also time to raise the issue of a state monopoly on the sale of products that contain alcohol."

The Tuesday issue of Vedomosti quoted a "market player" as saying that the surge in media coverage of alcohol-related deaths across the country was part of a campaign to lay the groundwork for the introduction of a state alcohol monopoly.

Meanwhile, the reports of alcohol-related deaths continued to flood in Tuesday.

In the Orenburg region, 22 people died of alcohol-induced hepatitis in October, Interfax reported. In the first nine months of 2006, 336 people in the region had been stricken with toxic hepatitis, and 104 of these have died, according to the regional branch of the Federal Consumer Protection Service.

Another 167 people were diagnosed with toxic hepatitis in the Vologda region this fall, resulting in two deaths, Interfax reported, citing the Vologda city administration.

The number of people suffering from alcohol poisoning in the Perm region rose to 222 on Tuesday. Nine people have died, a spokesman for the regional branch of the Federal Consumer Protection Service told Interfax.

Gennady Onishchenko, who heads the Federal Consumer Protection Service, told Prime-Tass on Tuesday that the recent wave of alcohol-related health problems was a coordinated campaign by bootleggers aimed at disrupting the efforts of law enforcement to crack down on the sale of illegal alcohol.

He called for the punishment of bootleggers who "knowingly" sell tainted alcohol.

Onishchenko also said all spirits should be taxed at the same rate as ethyl alcohol so that "liquids for bonfires and cleaning carpets" would no longer be significantly cheaper than legally produced alcoholic beverages.

"This would eliminate the economic incentive to produce all these distillates and to poison the country's population with them," he said.

Little can be done to influence the demand for such products, however, since many poor people can afford little else, Onishchenko said. "The people who are getting poisoned have below-average incomes," Onishchenko said. "Most of them are alcoholics and will keep on drinking."

Despite the media blitz, Gryzlov said the number of alcohol-related deaths was actually down this year, Interfax reported.

As of Oct. 1, 17,000 people had died this year of alcohol poisoning, a drop of 4,000 from the same period last year, Gryzlov said, without specifying the source of his information.