A Moonshine Black Market Grows in Russia

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In Russia, the average consumption of vodka has climbed to 15 liters per person per year (which works out to be approximately a 1 1/2 ounce shot for every Russian every day) according to The Moscow Times. The consequences are crippling Russia’s social and economic efforts.

A previous article from The Moscow Times addressed vodka’s edge over the beer market, a worrying trend, but more worrying than that is the emergence of dangerous, black market moonshine samogon. “It is estimated that more than 40,000 Russians die every year after drinking toxic liquids that include medical disinfectants, after-shave lotions and other dangerous substances,” reports the piece. The life expectancy for the average Russian is 17 years lower than the expectancy for Western Europe, and the country’s alcohol abuse has been linked to domestic violence, suicide and homicide (“among male perpetrators of spousal homicide, 60 to 75 percent of offenders had been drinking heavily prior to the incident”).

Increasing taxes has had a limited effect, and may have inadvertently spurred the samogon market. Cesar Chalala for The Moscow Times speculates that an educational campaign would be more effective, though that might be a tough one to get past Putin and his constituents. [The Moscow Times] [Image: Flickr/classic_film]