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  • #342415

    Anonymous

    Russia's heartland in crisis as desperation and vodka take toll

    Down a winding lane, through fields still covered in snow, stands a cluster of wooden cottages an hour's drive east of Moscow. Twenty years ago, the village of Rybaki was a lively community of more than 1,000 people. Today the population is a quarter of that. Almost no one has a job inside the village; the only thing thriving is a cemetery, which is black with fresh graves.

    The fate of Rybaki is echoed across Russia. Late last month the government published the initial results of a census taken last year. Since 2002, Russia's population has fallen by 2.2 million to just under 143 million.

    The proportion of men has fallen from 46.6% to 46.3%, which means the country now has 10.5 million more females than males. That speaks of an ugly truth: while outward migration to towns plays its part, a punishing mortality rate among men has devastated places such as Rybaki.

    "Most of my contemporaries are already dead," says Oleg Zlotnikov, 50, who sells sand and crushed stone at the end of a track in the village. He is one of only a few dozen men, and among the tiny handful who still work.

    While it is only 25 miles from the skyscrapers and Bentley showrooms of central Moscow, much of Rybaki looks like a scene from Tolstoy. Shabby cottages made from split logs stretch along streets of mud and slush. A few smart brick buildings fringe the community, but these are dachas built by rich Muscovites who are there for only a few weeks in the summer.

    Russia's demographic crisis sets it apart from most of Europe, where numbers have been more or less stable for two decades. Its population reached about 148m in 1990, but has declined since. While many countries have low fertility rates, here the problem is compounded by a high early death rate. Smoking, heart disease and accidents all contribute. One of the greatest killers, however, is the old Russian demon: vodka.

    "We are only women left," says Nina Burenina, a 75-year-old former milkmaid in a coloured headscarf, sitting in her kitchen in Moskvaretskaya Street. "Two of my sons died from drink – and my husband, too. Why hide it?"

    The first to die was Alexei, 23, who got into a drunken brawl with some men on a barge by the river, not long after coming back from his army service. "They beat him to a pulp and tossed him overboard, then pretended he fell in and got caught up in the propeller," says Burenina. "His body was found downstream three days later."

    Her husband, Ivan, a digger driver, succumbed to booze at the comparatively ripe age of 77. Then last May, her son, Konstantin, a 42-year-old engineer, died after contracting lung cancer, an ulcer and paralysis caused by drinking. Such stories are rife in Rybaki.

    On the other side of the village is a crumbling two-storey apartment block, behind the ruins of a social club where dances were held in the Soviet days. On the second floor, Klavdiya Turbanova, 78, peeps out of her window from behind a geranium plant. She moved to the village three years ago, but is shocked by the spectacle she sees in the yard below.

    "All the time there are people crawling around drunk," she says. "Once I found a man lying in the snow and wrapped him in a coat. Another time I dragged one out of a puddle. One of my neighbours said, 'You'll soon get used to ignoring them.' But I can't get used to it, it's not right."

    An alcoholic woman from the floor below recently burst into the flat and demanded the tiny bottle of nastoyka – a mix of vodka and herbs – that Turbanova sips to help with her high blood pressure. "After I retired I mopped floors and made pies and knitted socks to make a little money," she says. "Even now I have a little allotment out the back where I grow potatoes and cucumbers. These drunkards have lost all hope. They don't want to look for a job."

    Turbanova's granddaughter, Nastya, who is visiting from Zhukovsky, a town closer to Moscow, would like her to move away. Rybaki has a small medical station with a nurse, but two years ago Turbanova began to suffer fainting attacks. She had to go to a hospital in a larger village nearby. "It was ghastly," says Nastya. "There were cockroaches all over the place, the toilets were falling apart. We had to buy grandma's medicines ourselves because they didn't have any."

    Oleg Zlotnikov says people are driven to alcohol by lack of opportunity and the harsh living conditions. A long-promised gas supply has not been connected, so all the households are heated with wood or coal burners, or small electric heaters. In December and January, when temperatures fell well below zero, Rybaki went without electricity for almost two weeks after an ice storm brought down the power lines, said Zlotnikov.

    "Life is tough and people need jobs," he adds. "There's a farm, but they pay practically nothing, so only a few Tajik and Kyrgyz migrants are prepared to work there."

    Land is sold for dacha construction at such high prices that buying it for agricultural use is unprofitable. Meanwhile, Zlotnikov and his wife, Marina, have struggled to keep their business alive. The desperate conditions can lead to hatred and envy. One winter someone plugged up the holes Oleg had drilled in the ice of his pond to keep his fish alive. "Just out of spite," said a neighbour.

    In 2006, Zlotnikov was jailed for four years for planning to murder a business rival. He claims that the accusation was fabricated because he refused to cede to a local mafia kingpin.

    "They didn't reckon on my wife," he says, smiling. Marina fended off the raiders while Oleg was in jail, and saved his life when he contracted tuberculosis.

    Marina says: "Corruption also kills. It's psychological; in the end people just lower their hands. We didn't give up."

    Now the couple have branched out into breeding geese and turkeys. They even have two shaggy Bactrian camels from Astrakhan which they hope to hire to a local holiday camp for rides.

    Despite the hardships, some residents refuse to blame Russia's ruling tandem – President Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin, the prime minister, who is still thought to be the dominant force – for Rybaki's decline.

    "Please say thank you to Putin," says Burenina. "It's not his fault my sons turned to drink. It was the local shop, for staying open too late. Putin speaks well. He said he would raise pensions and he did."

    Turbanova said there were worse things than watching the drunks outside her window. "I lived through the war: I lost my father and brother at the front," she says. "At least there's no war now."

    What did she think of the country's leadership? "I like Putin, he's good. And that other one, his assistant."

    President Medvedev? "That's it. I like him, too."

    EDIT – Pictures removed by request

    #368178

    Anonymous


    Tatyana Tolstaya:  Leaders Give Russia Little Reason to Sober Up:

    The other day, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a law equating beer with alcoholic beverages, a move that restricts its advertisement and limits its sale and distribution. Unfortunately, the decision can mean only one thing: The vodka lobby trumped the beer lobby.

    People's health won’t improve. The young beer drinker won’t reach for an orange juice. Beer will simply get more expensive, and people will turn back to their beloved vodka.

    Legend has it that more than 1,000 years ago, when Vladimir the Great was deciding which religion to accept, he rejected Islam specifically because it proscribed alcohol. “The joy of Rus’ is to drink:” That phrase, attributed to Vladimir, determined the nation’s destiny for the next thousand years. Back then, people drank relatively weak beverages such as mead, beer or kvas. Vodka wasn’t invented until the days of Ivan the Terrible in the 16th century.

    Ivan is reputed to have organized the first drinking house, a specialized establishment in which one could drink but not eat. In the 17th and 18th centuries, Peter the Great continued the inebriation of the Russian people: At balls and assemblies, he required guests to drink to excess — sometimes, reportedly, to their death — for his entertainment.

    Perhaps, though, the explanation of Russia’s relationship to alcohol can be found in a national character prone to extremes, rather than in czars or religion. Any form of moderation, from politeness to prudence, is seen as weakness. The Russian macho won’t stop until he’s had his fill and dropped dead.
    Drunk Tanks

    In Soviet times, drunks littered the streets, prompting the government to build half-medical, half-penal tanks to contain them. I knew a narcologist who lost his government job because he was constantly drunk and failed to show up for work. He was unlucky: His co-workers drank no less than he did, but his liver wasn’t as tough as theirs. He didn’t have the strength to crawl back to work in the morning.

    As he told it, his work consisted of verifying the transgressions of moonshiners. The police would haul in the violators and their product, the doctors would solemnly fill out the necessary documents, and everyone would witness the offending liquid being poured down the sink. The moonshiners would pay a fine or go to jail. Then the doctors and police would lock the door; pull out the hidden bucket that had collected the fresh delicious moonshine; unpack pickles, brown bread, preserved fish and other hors d’oeuvres; and get the party started. It was a great job. Some chose to work all night.
    Wild With Envy

    Whenever I tell the story of the narcologist, my listeners go wild with envy. The fact that his family disintegrated and he died young bothers no one. I can testify that good moonshine is far superior to the vodka one can buy in the store. It’s cheap, clean, tastes a bit like aquavit, rates about 100 proof and offers the excitement of feeling like an outlaw. Go ahead, try to ban it. We’ll cook it and drink it. We don’t need your stinking decrees.

    I seldom see people splayed out on the asphalt these days, but that’s not an indicator. The drunkenness has shifted to homes and restaurants. Alcohol consumption per capita has increased along with its variety and accessibility.

    I know a lot of people who have made drinking their primary pastime. In between benders, they somehow manage to earn enough money to support the habit. Kids drink from age 12 or 13, mainly malt beverages. Beer ads portray its consumers as happy-go-lucky party types, who see nothing more natural than grabbing a case or two, because the world is great and life is beautiful. Then they get behind the wheel stinking drunk, or get run over by someone else.
    Fake Vodka

    A large portion of the vodka for sale is actually fake, poorly distilled spirits. The deadly rotgut, aimed at the pocketbook of Russia’s poorest drinkers, comes by the trainload from the south. Everybody knows about it, but the interests of organized crime are stronger than presidential decrees, particularly given the fact that our current president isn’t really in charge. Like cheap vodka, he’s also a fake.

    Wine, for its part, isn’t a contender. Wine-drinking culture hasn’t taken root in Russia. We produce very little of our own, and the imported version must get through a gauntlet of excises, checks, bans and licenses designed to enrich the relevant officials. As a result, it’s far too expensive for regular consumption. In any case, Russians drink less for flavor than for the brain-numbing effect that hard alcohol — and particularly poorly distilled hard alcohol — delivers much more effectively.
    Invincible People

    The Russian people are invincible, because over the past thousand years they’ve learned to downshift like no other nation. No 20-year-old French cognac? Can’t import Georgian wine? Beer too expensive? No problem. We’ll get booze where we can. We’ll buy infusion of hawthorn at the pharmacy. We’ll make moonshine from potatoes, sawdust or tomato paste. We’ll make cocktails from glue. We’ll extract spirits from bathroom cleaner (it’s called “snowflake,” has a grayish color and reeks like hell).

    Trying to separate people from their favorite drink with a decree is an exercise in futility. What the country really needs is something else: jobs, affordable housing, opportunities for kids to get into sports or art. Our weak and greedy leaders find it easier to prohibit, but our people have long since learned how to get around prohibitions.

    President Medvedev probably won’t strain window cleaner through rye bread. But the people will. We may die young, but we’ll die free.

    (Tatyana Tolstaya is a Russian writer whose works include the novel “The Slynx.” The opinions expressed are her own.)

    EDIT – Picture removed by request

    #368179

    Anonymous

    Ain't any better in Croatia among younger generations, thought we aren't doing Vodka but beer is that has status no1 here.

    I found once a Russian alcohol cook book named "101 way to get alcohol". It was describing how to get alcohol from wood, chairs, plastics and other stuff that one could find in it's home xD

    #368180

    Anonymous

    (Reuters) – In her one-room flat, as a small shelf of porcelain cats looks on and the smell of mold hangs in the air, Zoya pulls down the left shoulder of her black blouse and readies herself for her next hit.

    A friend and ex-addict uses a lighter to heat a dark, pebble-like lump of Afghan heroin in a tiny glass jar, mixes it with filtered water and injects it into Zoya's shoulder. The 44-year-old widow is a wreck: HIV-positive, overweight and diabetic. After 12 years of dealing and drug abuse, the veins in her forearms and feet are covered in bloody scabs and abscesses, too weak and sore to take fresh injections.

    Crimson-dyed hair frames her bloated face, which is made up to match a hot pink manicure. As the syrupy brown mixture enters her system, Zoya's eyes glass over and she ponders her fate and that of her country.

    "There are a lot of us. What do they (the government) want to do? Kill us?" she says. "They want to gather us together and drown us? I worry for tomorrow's generation."

    If Zoya is anything to go by, today's Russians are hardly flourishing. Russia has one of the world's biggest heroin problems, with up to three million addicts according to local non-governmental organizations. Twenty one percent of the 375 tons of heroin produced from Afghanistan's opium fields now finds its way through central Asia into Russia, according the United Nations. (By contrast, China, with nine times more people, consumes just 13 percent.) The Russian government estimates its citizens bought $17 billion worth of street-traded heroin last year — about seven billion doses. The addiction kills at least 30,000 Russians a year, which is a third of the world's total heroin-related deaths, adding to pressures on the country's already shrinking population.

    So grave is the problem that President Dmitry Medvedev last year branded heroin a threat to national security.

    That's one reason why last October, 21 years after the end of the decade-long Soviet war in Afghanistan, Russian troops joined forces with U.S. soldiers for a joint drug raid on four Afghan labs. The operation, which destroyed nearly a ton of heroin, was hailed a success and the Cold War foes said they would like to see more such operations in Afghanistan, which is responsible for 90 percent of the world's heroin production.

    At home, though, Russia has been far less active in tackling the problem. Critics go as far as to accuse Moscow of wilfully neglecting its citizens and thereby fuelling what the World Health Organization says is one of the fastest growing HIV/AIDS epidemics in the world.

    Unlike most countries around the world, Russia refuses to finance harm reduction programs such as needle exchanges, or to legalize methadone. Over the past few months, Moscow has decided to discontinue the work of foreign donors and NGOs with heroin addicts. It even recently blamed foreign groups for worsening the country's HIV epidemic.

    Health experts and drug addicts alike point to official inaction as the real culprit. It's as if Moscow has misinterpreted the old U.S. anti-drugs slogan "Just Say No" and turned its back on the crisis. "My government does nothing for me. I am no longer a person in this society," says Zoya, who lives in Tver, a drab city of half a million just off the Moscow-St Petersburg highway, and whose husband, also an addict, died from AIDS several years ago.

    Anya Sarang from the Andrey Rylkov Foundation for Health and Social Justice, a small UN-funded Russian organization set up in June 2009, says Russia is failing its people. "For the main groups prone to the disease — drug users, sex workers, migrants — there is absolutely nothing for them," says Sarang.

    THE PROUD BEAR

    Russian officials have a long history of denying crises. From the Soviet government's refusal to help during the famine of the 1920s to its delay in responding to the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident, responses from the top have often mixed disregard and cover-up. During last August's heat wave, as peat fires and acrid smoke killed hundreds, officials kept silent on the wider health effects of the smoke for weeks.

    One of the reasons for the rush to denial lies in the national psyche. Russia is a deeply patriotic country, with a long history of strong governments far removed from the everyday concerns of ordinary citizens. After the humiliating collapse of the Soviet Union 20 years ago and the calamity and poverty that followed, the strongman rule of Vladimir Putin (former president and current Prime Minister) has allowed the Russian bear to flex its muscles on the international stage again.

    But while Moscow crows about hosting such high-profile sporting events as the Winter Olympics and soccer World Cup, it ignores daily reality, says health worker Sarang. "Russia is trying to preserve a certain political image, showing that everything is fine," she says. "This has shown to be nothing more than a lie."

    Most Russians see the truth all around them. Zoya's story is repeated so often across the country's nine time zones that the reality is hard to ignore. Even the government estimates there are 1.8 million heroin users; activists and doctors put the number closer to 3 million, and in a study last June, the United Nations put it at 2.34 million or 1.64 percent of Russia's population. That's the world's third highest heroin abuse rate in per capita terms after Afghanistan and Iran. In absolute numbers, the UN says, Russia is number one.

    Heroin was virtually unheard-of during the Soviet era, but is now easy to buy in any city in the country. In Tver, a medium-sized city with relatively little industry and few job prospects for the young, the detritus of addiction — used syringes, needles — litters the streets. Deals are a regular sight on street corners.

    Russia's anti-drugs tsar, Viktor Ivanov, who heads the Federal Drug Control Service — a powerful government body given to U.S.-style rhetoric about the 'War on Drugs'– blames the country's porous Central Asian borders for the heroin hunger.

    "Unfortunately, in 1991 we suddenly found ourselves without borders," Ivanov told reporters in December, referring to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

    Ex-Soviet Tajikistan, which borders Afghanistan and is one of the world's poorest countries, has long been a haven for drug smuggling out of Afghanistan, where the Tajiks have ethnic ties. From there the heroin flows through Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan and into Russia.

    INTERTWINED WITH AIDS

    The drug problem has now become an AIDS problem. Officially, Russia has 520,000 registered HIV-positive people. The UN and local NGOs say there are probably closer to a million, maybe even more. HIV/AIDS has spread rapidly over the past decade, especially among drug users who regularly share dirty needles. The government estimates around a third of all drug users in Russia are HIV-positive; and international and Russian health experts worry the disease is beginning to spread to the general population through heterosexual sex.

    The biggest problem, say health experts, is the government's refusal to address Russia's drug addiction. The lack of official intervention is remarkable. There are currently just 70 needle exchange and distribution programs in Russia, reaching a mere 7 percent of heroin addicts according to the London-based International Harm Reduction Association (IHRA). In terms of needle exchanges, "Russia is not even scratching the surface," says Rick Lines, executive director of the IHRA.

    All the programs are run with foreign funding. Government support: nil. It's not as if the government is powerless. In the one area of the HIV/AIDS epidemic where it is active — mother-to-child transmission — it has reduced transmission rates to almost zero.

    HIGHWAY AIDS TEST

    In the face of government inaction, grassroots groups have mushroomed across the country.

    Outside Tver, Yuri Suring parks his beat-up black Toyota at a truck stop along the Moscow-Saint Petersburg highway every night. There, between 7 pm and 4 am, he surreptitiously doles out clean needles and condoms to prostitutes, many of whom work to support their drug addictions. "If I were not here, where would these girls go? Who would help them? No one," Surin says as a trio of prostitutes in knee-high boots and bomber jackets approaches the car.

    Surin's organization, We And AIDS, consists of himself, a second outreach worker and a driver. The supplies he hands out every night and the kits he uses to test women come, he says, from sympathetic doctors and western groups who want to help.

    On a cold night in November, 20-year-old prostitute Olga slips into Surin's car for an AIDS test. Surin rubs a two-inch indicator on her gums and inserts it into a small plastic tray while Olga nervously smokes a cigarette and shakes her black-bobbed head from side to side in anger at her fate, her gold leaf-shaped earrings swaying.

    After studying the result — negative — the prostitute flings the indicator out of the car window and then hops across the gravel into a truck cabin where customers — two large middle-aged truckers — are waiting.

    DEEMED SUFFICIENT

    The Health Ministry says it spent 10 billion roubles ($320.5 million) on HIV/AIDS testing and treatment — mostly antiretroviral drugs — in 2010. But activists and health experts say this amount compares badly with other countries in the G20 and sufferers are routinely ignored.

    In a 2010 report, the World Health Organization said just a fifth of Russians who needed AIDS drugs were receiving them. South Africa, which has the biggest HIV-positive population in the world — and whose government until recently was criticised as being in denial on AIDS — gives AIDS drugs at almost twice that rate.

    "Appeals, trials and public action — nothing works," says Alexandra Volgina, head of The Candle Foundation for HIV-positive people, a non-governmental organisationorganization in Saint Petersburg.

    When asked why so many sick Russians lack access to AIDS drugs, the health ministry's spokesman responds: "The amount spent was deemed sufficient."

    POPULATION PROBLEMS

    Russians usually blame alcohol for their health problems. Official data shows the average Russian drinks 18 liters (38 pints) of pure alcohol every year, compared with 14 liters in France and eight in the United States.

    Official campaigns against drinking have been pursued sporadically since Tsarist times, usually with little success. In September last year Russia banned night-time sales of heavy alcohol, following on from a proposal to double the minimum price of vodka over the next two years in an effort to curb drinking.

    "They (the government) are nicer to alcoholics than they are to us," says 32-year-old heroin addict and Tver resident Valera, whose scaly hands and face are covered in bright pink scabs from a decade of use. Like many drug addicts, Valera does not work and refuses to say how he funds his $300-a-day habit.

    The Geneva-based International Aids Society Aids Society (IAS) warns that if Moscow continues to take no measures, the number of new HIV infections in Russia is likely to grow by 5-10 percent a year, pushing the problem to "an endemic level", according to IAS president Elly Katabira: the rate will stay constant even without any additional infections from outside the country.

    That would hit Russia's already dwindling population — recently called a "demographic crisis" by President Medvedev. Heavy smoking, alcoholism, pollution, poverty, low birth rates in the years after the fall of Communism, as well as HIV/AIDS underpin UN projections that the population will shrink to 116 million by 2050 from 142 million now. Moscow — which now gives money to mothers bearing two or more children – targets a population of around 145 million by 2025, but concedes that it could fall to as low as 127 million by 2031.

    DESPERATE FOR METHADONE

    If one thing appals foreign health officials and activists more than anythappallsing else about Moscow's response to its heroin problem, it's the ban on methadone. The WHO regards methadone as essential in combating heroin dependence, but in Russia anyone caught using it or distributing it can face up to 20 years in prison — as harsh a sentence as that for heroin.

    Called a replacement drug, methadone is taken by mouth — so reduces the risk of HIV infection by using shared needles — and is used around the world to treat opiate addiction. Russia is one of just three countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia to ban the drug, alongside Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, where heroin consumption is relatively low. China, which has over one million registered heroin addicts, with unofficial estimates running several times that, has more than 680 methadone sites.

    Methadone is a potent synthetic opiate in its own right, but it can eliminate the agonizing withdrawal symptoms that addicts experience when they quit heroin. Its main advantages are that it has to come from a health-care source, in controlled doses and without needles. That gives addicts some chance, over months or sometimes years, to go clean for good.

    In Tver, Yuri Ivanov, a doctor and the deputy head of the state-run Tver Regional Narcology Clinic, is dumbfounded by the ban. "Why do civil servants limit me from doing my work?" he asks in his dimly lit office in the crumbling grey clinic, which sits off an unpaved muddy lane in the center of the city. "All that they are trying to do is the opposite of what we need. It is hard for me to understand… The situation is going backward. When there is no real medicine, they go right back to drugs."

    Ivanov sometimes resorts to giving his patients tropicamide, a drug used by eye surgeons to dilate the pupils and which has a similar effect to heroin.

    Addicts talk of their rare encounters with methadone users with a sense of wonder and even magic. "All of us know about this drug methadone and all of us want it. People come through who have done it and we can instantly see how much brighter and better they live," says Tver addict Valera in jittery sentences, high after shooting up twice by midday, in an interview in the back of his tobacco-stained car.

    But Moscow won't be swayed. "The medicine has become more dangerous than the illness. It would be replacing one evil with another," said the anti-drugs baron Ivanov. "And why on earth would we do that?" Gennady Onischenko, the country's top doctor, repeatedly dismisses methadone as "still a narcotic".

    In a major government anti-drug strategy launched last June, there was no mention of substitution therapy, even though Moscow says it is now focused on reducing the demand for drugs. That means that Russia's measly four federal and 77 regional rehabilitation centers will continue to treat addicts with psychotherapy, counseling or simple painkillers.

    CHAINED TO BED FRAMES

    The vacuum created by the lack of effective substitution therapies was highlighted in an incident last October in the Ural Mountains town of Nizhny Tagil. Anti-drugs activist Yegor Bychkov, 23, was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for kidnapping drug addicts. Bychkov said he had received permission from the addicts' parents to forcibly take their sons and chain them to steel bed frames while they underwent a painful detox.

    Anti-drugs chief Ivanov praised Bychkov, saying he had acted in good will; the head of the parliamentary health committee Olga Borzova said the state was to blame for his arrest as he had become desperate.

    The Russian Orthodox Church also weighed in. Though its official stance is against sex education and it regards heroin use as a sin, it has set up its own rehabilitation centers which offer religious guidance. The Church also holds regular discussions with the UN over the HIV/AIDS crisis.

    Unfortunately, those sorts of initiatives may be risky. Almost two years ago, the General Prosecutor's Office was ordered by Russia's Security Council to beef up prosecutorial measures against non-governmental organizations which advocate substitution therapy. Since then, activists distributing free needles have been detained on charges of aiding illegal drug use.

    "Russian government officials consistently promote falsehoods about harm reduction, and deter those who speak in favor of them," the IHRA's Rick Lines says. "Speaking honestly about the vast body of evidence supporting the effectiveness of methadone is a dangerous thing to do (in Russia)."

    That may be why relations between the UN's Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria — which has been pushing for methadone legalization — and Russia's health ministry ruptured at the end of last year. The Global Fund provides the most finance for HIV/AIDS prevention in Russia and granted $351 million to Russia for 2004-11. Now $16 million of that allocation remains, and is at risk of being cut this year.

    Worse, say global health experts and local NGOs, is the health ministry's decision to scrap the Global Fund's needle distribution, HIV awareness and medication programs. "They proved ineffective and we shall not continue them after 2011," said Alexander Vlasov, the ministry's spokesman.

    In October, the health ministry directly accused the Global Fund of making the HIV epidemic worse. "In the regions where these (Global Fund needle) programs were operating, the spread of HIV infection increased three-fold," minister Tatyana Golikova told a narcology conference.

    The Fund says it is keeping up a dialogue with the Health Ministry. But global health experts warn that the decision to end the Global Fund's work in Russia will be catastrophic. "Russia will fall behind and lose the achievements made so far," warned IAS president Katabira. "We will not be able to recover the situation."

    EDIT – Pictures removed by request

    #368181

    Anonymous

    This is sad. If Russia alone were to clean up its act with drugs and have responsible alcohol consumption, that would be enough to shift Europe East in terms of power. Such a big nation with so many resources, natural allies and a disciplined workforce would be telling Berlin, London and Paris what's what and not much could be said to counter. Ok, so I am sort of exaggerating there, but there would be a grand difference.

    In fact, the one truly good thing about Putin and Lukashenko is that they clearly value a discipline work ethic. Guys like Brezhnev and Stalin only got fatter and more bloated as they got older.

    #368182

    Anonymous

    Excessive alcohol abuse is problem in whole Slavic world also. Under our apartment we also have homeless drunks wondering around, digging through trash etc. Youth is forever binging on weekend nights (take trip through town centre and all you see is drunk students and drunk English tourists) and one reads in newspapers of chidlren being taken away from drunk parents etc.

    Though I must say, Polish drinking culture has moved very much more in favour of beer than vodka, which is in some way good. Older generations of drunks still drink hard stuff in excess though, though there are no whole alcoholic villages here.

    Everything in moderation.

    #368183

    Anonymous

    Yet ONE more reason that foreign companies would hesitate before moving production facilities to Russia: a drunk workforce is unreliable, uncontrollable, undisciplined and would not churn out high-quality stuff.

    #368184

    Anonymous

    Moderation is key. It is fine to enjoy a beer once in a while but when you go overboard you just destroy yourself not to mention look like a damn idiot in public.

    #368185

    Anonymous
    Quote:
    Moderation is key. It is fine to enjoy a beer once in a while but when you go overboard you just destroy yourself not to mention look like a damn idiot in public.

    Not possible.  Any liquor within my presence will be consumed.  Alcholism doesn't have to mean someone who spends all their money on liquor or drinks everyday.  I simply cannot moderate myself.  It's just as same as if someone buys me a box of chocolates.  I rarely buy chocolate for myself but if someone gives me a box of chocolate, it will all be gone within hours.

    The problem in Eastern Europe is that beer is cheap and accessible (sometimes cheaper than bottled water) and liquor is cheaper on the CPI.  The Government, logically, just has to tax the hell out of it and makes sure only bars can sell liquor and liquor stores close at 4PM.

    #368186

    Anonymous
    Quote:

    Quote:
    Moderation is key. It is fine to enjoy a beer once in a while but when you go overboard you just destroy yourself not to mention look like a damn idiot in public.

    Not possible.  Any liquor within my presence will be consumed.

    Heh heh… then moderate how often you get close to alcohol.

    I, on the other hand, once received a bottle of vodka as a gift and it took me nearly a year to finish. Haha. However, a few years earlier, while still in college, I would have gotten wasted with friends on the first available night off and finished the entire bottle within an hour.

    #368187

    Anonymous

    Husarz, you are my hero. A year? Thats some will power. :D

    My promise for the new year is that I will drink no more….nor less. :D

    #368188

    Anonymous
    Quote:
    Husarz, you are my hero. A year? Thats some will power. :D

    "They have less fear of a man of genius who lacks willpower than of a
    vigorous character with mediocre intelligence and at the same time they
    highly commend those who are devoid of intelligence and will-power."

    "Where we lack weapons, we must make up with willpower."

    #368189

    Anonymous
    Quote:
    My promise for the new year is that I will drink no more….nor less. :D

    Sounds good. Obviously you should to limit your tendency, which probably to some extend prevented you recently from finding the way to Slavorum  :D

    #368190

    Anonymous

    I never liked hard liquor. I always drinked it becouse friends didnt buy good old slovene wine or beer. I think solution for Russians is beer, medovukha and myod. Lets not fool ourself, there will always be alcohol drinkers but question is how do we lower serious alcoholism. Hard liquor is "devils" drink i know that. All chronic alcoholics in our krčma are on hard liqour. Infact liquor was never intended to be for casual drinking it was used in medicine and it was realy expensive.

    #368191

    Anonymous

    I have a townhouse in Rankin County, Missississippi, and the sale of hard Liqour there is illegal (they call that a Dry County in the US).  There are no Liqour stores and all the Bars serve only beer and are required to serve food and have entertainment other than drinking, like wide screen TVs with Sports.  Just recently we passed it that the Local Italian resturant can serve a glass of wine with Italian food, bcause it wouldn't be authentic to have a Coke or a beer.  You can buy alcohol elsewhere and drink it in your home, but sellingor making  it will land you in prison.

    Incidentally, Coca-Cola was originally invented, because the Methodists popularized it as an alternative to drinking Whiskey in the Southern half of the US.

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