New Year Drinking in Russia

By Slava Tsukerman

In the Soviet Union, the New Year was the only non-political holiday. Everybody considered it the most important holiday of the year. This tradition is still alive. The official Holiday is from January 1 to January 9. During these days nobody works: stock markets are shut and no newspapers are printed. Many Russians extend the festivities until January13, when Russia celebrates the New Year according to the old Julian calendar.

According to the state-run news agency RIA-Novosti, Russia’s GDP misses out on 1 trillion rubles (about $33,000,000,000) as a result of the extended holidays.

Above all, these two weeks in Russia are two weeks of heavy drinking. The average Russian spends 12,000 rubles ($400) on alcohol during the period.

Russian population is 142 million. A research was published recently according to which Russians drank more than 1.5 billion liters of alcohol over the holidays, including 100 million bottles of beer, 100 million bottles of champagne, 250 million bottles of vodka,  80 million bottles of wine, 10 million bottles of cognac and 1.5 million bottles of other drinks such as rum, gin, tequila and whiskey.

It was estimated that if all the bottles of alcohol that Russians drank over the holiday were lined up along the equator, they would wrap around the world 17 times

Yevgeny Bryun, Russia’s top medical drug official, said on Monday: “Long-term abuse of alcohol is always bad. Alcohol only fully processed in human body after three weeks… It has chronic toxic impacts, the effects of which can last a month.”

Russian newspapers and websites are now filled with advice to the Russians who are trying to return to sobriety.

Certainly not only during holidays, heavy drinking is one of the traditional Russian problems.

Advertising: “Russian Vodka. Never let yourself get sober!”

According to international experts there are 62 million alcoholics in the world at the moment. Russian top expert Gerasimenko claims that there are 20 million clinical alcoholics today in Russia. It is almost 7% of the Russia’s population. Up to 50% of Russia’s population drinks regularly. Deputy Chairman of Duma Committee on Health Alexander Chukhraev claims that over the last 10-15 years the consumption of alcohol has doubled – from 8 liters to 15-18 liters per person per year in Russia. These data do not include the use of moonshine and alcohol substitutes such as lotions.

Experts believe that the indicator above 8 liters per person is threatening nation’s gene pool. Today in Russia 17% of newborn children are retarded as a result of their parents heavy drinking.

Alcohol was the cause of death of three quarters of patients in the age group 30 – 40, who had died in Russian general medical hospitals lately. 75% of suicides in Russia are committed under the influence of alcohol.

96% of Russians start consuming alcohol at the age of 15, about 1/3 at the age of 10. One percent  of Russian teenagers are alcoholics. They drink mostly vodka or moonshine.

45% of vodka in Russian stores is counterfeit with a retail price below 50 rubles ($1.6). Very often this “vodka” is a deadly poison.

That explains why there is an explosion of so called “artistic” home brewing in Russia. Magazines gladly publish recipes of moonshine from celebrities, and supermarkets sell moonshine “Kosogorov.   Manufacturers claim that it is the very first moonshine that was licensed.


Russian Internet advertising of Moonshine which is “better than Whiskey”

Where is Russia heading?

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Updated: January 30, 2013 — 12:09 am
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