Russia goes sober as law-makers even beer to alcohol

The days are numbered for the popular tradition of enjoying a beer on the streets, as Russia is banning the sale of beer at kiosks starting 2013.

The law signed by President Medvedev on July 20 prohibits shop sales of beer during the night (between 11pm and 8am) and alcohol advertising generally. It also introduces fines for drinking beer in various public places.

While beer was once viewed as an exception to the rule, the growing concern of health experts regarding beer alcoholism has led to an expansion of the ban to include beer as well. Thus, the new law identifies beer as a fully-fledged alcoholic beverage.

Duma deputies say it took a lot of effort to adopt the law, as there was a lot of resistance behind the scenes.

“The law has come into force only because we were able to persuade the government and the president,” Viktor Zvagelsky, from the State Duma Committee on Economic Policy, told RT. “There was a lot of backdoor fighting. We realize that besides the political side, there’s an economy. Advertising and kiosk sales mean big profits. And it is hard to outweigh money considerations with anything else.”

President Medvedev has long declared the fight against alcoholism and drug-addiction to be Russia’s priority, especially among children and teenagers.

Earlier the State Duma qualified the sale of alcoholic beverages to minors as a criminal offense. The bill deems the repeated sale of alcohol to minors to be a crime, punishable by a fine of up to $2,860 or up to one year of mandatory labor.

According to Rospotrebnadzor, two of three Russian children aged between 13 and 16 regularly consume alcohol, mostly beer and canned cocktails.

­Teetotalers gather for No Drink Session

Meanwhile, some people who might approve of the new alcohol law have gathered near Lake Baikal.

The Seventh All-Russia Meeting for Teetotalers has just kicked off there, gathering over a hundred participants. They include people still battling the bottle and those who have long quit.

The meeting will extend over four days. It was organized with the help of local church members, who are trying to promote a sober way of life.

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