Experts: Putin killing Russians and Russia’s future by cutting vodka prices

A supporter of Putin's United Russia party. (Image: rufabula.ru)

A supporter of Putin's United Russia party. (Image: rufabula.ru) 

2015/01/15 • Russia

Vladimir Putin may have won some support with his plan to cut prices for alcohol and may even keep part of Russia so drunk that it will not challenge him, but four Moscow experts say that cutting alcohol prices will increase the number of deaths among Russians and undermine the future of Russia, whatever the Kremlin leader says.

Russian rulers have long known that making alcohol more difficult to obtain by price or other means is an easy way to generate public anger and even opposition, and some of them when times get tough are even inclined to cut prices as a way of winning cheap popularity.

But the costs of doing so are extremely high and include both driving up mortality rates among working-age men and thus driving down Russia’s population, according to Yuliya Zinkina, Andrey Korotayev, Sergey Rybalchenko, and Darya Khalturina of the Higher School of Economics.

Putin-brand vodka, priced at USD $3-$5 per bottle

Putin-brand vodka, priced at around USD $3-$5 per bottle

Russia has achieved significant successes in reducing mortality among adult males and thus boosting life expectancy in the period since 2005, but this was achieved, the four say, “primarily as the result of reducing mortality from causes linked to alcohol.” Indeed, they say, the improvements recalled those achieved by Gorbachev’s anti-alcohol campaign.

And conversely, the scholars argue, statistical analysis shows that “a significant increase in the production (and consumption) of alcohol in [Russia] leads to an immediate and significant increase in mortality rates.”Cutting the minimum prices for vodka “will not only increase access to cheap vodka,” they point out, but will open the way to black market production who don’t pay taxes” and thus the government will lose money as well as lives. And they say that Putin’s move will have such an immediate impact that there will be statistically significant consequences by next month.

Tragically, the shift to what can only be called a pro-alcohol policy is to be found not just in this decree or in Russia but in the draft program for the Eurasian Economic Union which contains provisions that are beneficial only to alcohol producers who want unrestricted access to markets.

Drunken villagers in southern Siberia, Russia

Drunken villagers in southern Siberia. Situation with alcoholism is even worse in villages than in Russian urban centers.

And Putn’s action has prompted a number of Duma deputies to propose expanding the trade in alcohol, something that runs against the recommendations of the World Health Organization and will have the most dire consequences for the population. Meanwhile, the Russian government is planning to lift restrictions on telephone and Internet sales of alcohol as well.

What will this mean? the four researchers ask. If Russia continued with the policies in place before Putin’s decree, they estimate that the Russian population would be 146.3 million in 2020 and 142 million. If his decree stands, those figures will be respectively 2.3 million and 5.5 million fewer, with most of the losses being among working-age men.

Moreover, if Putin’s decree stands, the projected life expectancy of Russians will not rise to 74 as he called for in his message to the Federal Assembly but be seven or eight years fewer than that in 2018.

In addition to the human costs of such a development, the four say, “those results will practically reduce to nothing all the demographic achievements of the last few years, which are one of the most important achievements of Russia under President Putin and one of the chief indicators of the development of the country in the 2000s.”

What Moscow should be doing is restricting the availability of alcohol still further rather than encouraging people to drink by cutting prices and making it easier for people to buy it. And the four conclude that it is now time to restore a state monopoly on vodka if the Russian government really cares about its own people and not just the profits of producers.

Edited by: A. N.

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  • Mykola Banderachuk

    make vodka free putin, the quicker this species of humans will leave the earth

  • Don Casavant

    Just keep drinking the kool-aid Ivan, it will all be over very soon!!!

    • Michel Cloarec

      If russia was a democracy. I could run for office ! Vote for me and i promise to solve the problems with russia . My motto FREE VODKA
      BUY 3 BOTTLES PAY FOR 2 !
      DISCOUNT 50 % ON NEXT 4 AND 5 .
      RUSSIAN BUDGET BASED ON VODKA PRICES!
      FREE TAXI HOME ! FREE FUNERALS !

      • Don Casavant

        Hell that sounds almost good enough to make me want to migrate there!!

        • Michel Cloarec

          With little propaganda ! Maybe can we get the terrorists in LPR and DPR to jump on next humanitarian convoy to mother russia !
          Discount on vodka , they would love that !

  • Evelyn Myketa Livingston

    Tell someone who cares …

  • allen reed

    Remember this is Putin’s war to destroy Ukraine ….the people of Russia are brainwashed …..when I hear comments like this they do not sound any different than the garbage I hear on Russian T.V. We pride ourselves in Canada on compassion……show compassion for Russian people, in a way they are victims also. It is Putin that is the evil…..when he is gone , the world will be a safer place.

    • Don Casavant

      You say that you “hear on Russian TV” are you speaking about RT or do you have access to all the Russian TV channels?

    • Michel Cloarec

      That putin is the evil, we know ! But are you sure that compassion for the russians is the right way, after all they voted for him in full consciousness !
      They are still supporting him !
      Don´t forget we are dealing here with another art !
      How would it be if outerspace humanoid would try to invade earth. Would you have compassion. Junk RT and russian News Media , they are on a crusade to destroy the world !

      • allen reed

        Michel….. the last Russian election was rigged, I agree with you , the Russian people appear to support Putin, but does this make them accountable for his actions…..he is a dictator…..there is no democracy in Russia and the Russian mindset is a Soviet mindset. Russians are stuck in the past….they think that giving up personal freedom for stability is the only way to survive and they do not understand democracy. The point I was trying to make was that millions of Russians suffer because of the policies of the leadership and to hear comments hoping for suffering of people that do not make policy in Russia is inhuman and it makes us no better than those that we condemn. This is Putin’s war against Ukraine……he is garbage…..and the day he is eliminated , I will thank God . For your information my wife and her family live in Mariupol and I was there in July…..I have a very personal interest in this and every day I worry that the terrorists and Russian army are going to push into her city , I am very aware of how the murderers in Donetsk treat the citizens……..enough said …….

        • Michel Cloarec

          I am aware of the situation in Ukraine ! If I comment on Euromaidan press articles it is in support for Ukraine!
          Uppermost I am concerned that the killing must stop !
          Putin is responsible for all this mess ! Putin has the support of russian people, therefore they are responsible also.
          Now , this seems hard , but my only excuse is that in a democracy all are responsible !

  • Brent

    In November it was also announed Russia also is relaxing gun laws…I’m not sure if he’s trying to do the World a favor, but I thought he didn’t like American values….cheap liquor and lots of guns?!?!?

    • Don Casavant

      Then only thing missing are loose women!! 😉

      • all

        russia is certainly not missing loose women

      • Murf

        Why would you think that Don?

    • Azazello Blasphemikov

      Free cars would be fun too. See what is going on an russain streets:

  • Rascalndear

    Why is some of the text crossed out and in blue?

    • Don Casavant

      Because they could not find the red pen!

  • Rods

    Could understand why Ukrainian authorities stopped Akhmetov humanitarian convoys when they were found to contain cigarettes and vodka.

    Drinking 1L+ of vodka per day by Donbass terrorists should be compulsory, not just for the significant minority.

    They can they take part in the following popular drinking games to prove their fighting prowess:

    1. Guess the fire; artillery or grads: Fire at your buddy’s and see if they can guess correctly if it is blue-on-blue or red-on-blue fire and artillery or Grads. The higher the hits the higher the drinking token prizes!

    2. Test your fighting buddy’s reactions: Are they aware, are they fully alert or are they sleeping on the job? There is only one test, throw a grenade in the middle, the smart alert will escape.

    3. Strelkov loves battle enactment. Now it is your turn, 1L of vodka minimum, 2 or 3 bottles better, then show off your marksmanship. Do a William Tell enactment; Place an apple on a buddies head and shoot it off. Not a sniper then use AK47 / AK74 in burst mode and aim low, we don’t want to waste those bullets in thin air!

    Anybody else got any good drinking games to keep the bored, overly familiar with the bottle Donbass terrorists occupied, then add your drinking games to the list! :-)

    • Michel Cloarec

      What about Russian roulette ? Compulsary with first vodka morning breakfast , to increase adrenalin, guns loaded with 3 bullets !
      Selfies on the wall of the downed heroes !
      Not enough revolver ? use a pistol , better adrenalin kick ! Take care, to be fair only one bullet in the cartridge case !

  • Azazello Blasphemikov

    give them free vodka, free cars and free guns. they will kill themselves!

  • dok

    Let all those russian swine drink themselves into a state of chronic alcoholism. They deserve it.

  • zorbatheturk

    That guy voted for Putin 78 times in the last election.