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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

United Russia, Rodina Back State Monopoly on Alcohol

Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov said Thursday that only the introduction of a state alcohol monopoly could bring an end to the ongoing "epidemic" of alcohol-related illness, Interfax reported.

"The only effective way to combat the production of counterfeit alcoholic beverages is to restore the state monopoly on the production and sale of ethyl alcohol," Mironov said.

The media have been filled recently with reports of deaths and illness caused by the consumption of nonpotable alcohol.

Some observers, including former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, have suggested that the blanket media coverage may be intended to prepare the ground for the introduction of a state monopoly.

The idea of restoring the state's alcohol monopoly, floated by State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov on Tuesday, was endorsed Thursday by the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, which Gryzlov heads, Interfax reported.

Alexander Babakov, head of the Duma's Rodina faction, also came out in favor of the idea Thursday, adding that the government should create a state-owned purchasing corporation with the exclusive right to buy from Russian and foreign producers, Interfax reported.

Babakov also proposed that the state should purchase inexpensive, high-quality alcoholic beverages in order to combat bootleggers. The retail sale of such beverages should be closely monitored by the government, he said. Prices should be determined by the state and made known to the public.