Alcoholism – Russia’s "National Disaster"
Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has said alcoholism is a ‘national disaster’ in his country. He spoke of his shock at how much Russians drank each year. In particular, he said Russian people drank too much vodka, which is the nation’s most popular alcoholic beverage. Mr. Medvedev quoted a recent report that showed the average Russian drank 18 litres of pure alcohol each year. That means around 350 litres of beer or about 45 litres of vodka. That's almost a litre of vodka a week. The president said: “When you convert that into vodka bottles, it is simply mind-boggling.” He said measures aimed at reducing the levels of drinking have not worked. "This is a centuries-old problem and one cannot hope to solve it overnight," Medvedev said.
Doctors in Russia believe alcohol causes around half of all deaths of Russians between the ages of 15 and 54. An equally frightening statistic is that only 40 per cent of Russian school leavers are likely to live to the age of 60. This will have a huge impact on Russia’s economy. The country has one of the highest rates of alcohol-related diseases in the world. Health Minister Tatyana Golikova said: "We are the absolute leader in terms of alcohol consumption." One problem Russia has is bootlegging – making and selling vodka illegally to avoid paying taxes. Quite often the alcohol content in bootleg vodka is much higher than that in commercially produced liquor. Officials say up to 50 per cent of Russia's vodka market is illegal.