Tuesday, February 3, 2015

"Government-Think": Keep Populous Drunk With Lower Vodka Prices Seen As A Way To Distract From Economic Collapse


Russia Lowers Vodka Prices While Consumer Staples Get Expensive

MOSCOW – Vodka has now become slightly cheaper in Russia after the government lowered the beverage’s minimum price, amid a severe economic crisis and soaring inflation that have increased the cost of nearly every basic necessity.

“With this decrease, they want to soothe the people. They try to mitigate people’s discontent with the widespread price hikes on other products. That’s because this country is actually a nation of heavy drinkers,” Andrei, aged 30, told Efe.

The sharp depreciation of the ruble, which has lost more than 50 percent of its value in recent months, coincided with the rise in prices for both imported and domestic commodities.

“There are other products that should be subsidized, like drugs and food,” laments Irina Viktorovna, a retiree who lives in Moscow, one of the world’s most expensive cities, with a pension of just over 12,000 rubles (about 150 euros at current exchange rates).

The measure, which came into effect on Sunday, was approved after Russian President Vladimir Putin ruled out the option of raising vodka prices.

Authorities say they want to avoid seeing consumers turn to homemade distillates, which are very often dangerous to health.

“In the countryside, people drink a lot. In rural areas, people produce poor-quality homemade alcohol so as not to spend their scarce resources on factory-made vodka,” says Andrei, who like most Russians support the rebate decision.

Irina, however, believes that the measure is not the best that could be taken under the country’s current circumstances with an economy undermined by dwindling oil prices and sanctions imposed by the West on Moscow.

Russia is the world leader in per capita alcohol consumption, 18 liters per year, according to official data that also acknowledges that more than two million Russians suffer from alcoholism.

A recent international study published in the British medical journal The Lancet warns that a quarter of the male population of Russia tend to die before age 55, a fact scientists have largely attributed to their extreme consumption of alcohol.


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