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Russia’s long battle with alcoholism is no joke. But a lawmaker’s proposal toban the sale and consumption of booze on Wednesdays seems like dark comedy given the failure of past attempts at alcohol prohibition.
When Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev attempted to cut vodka production and boost alcohol prices in 1985, there was a surge in alcohol-poisoning deaths as many alcoholics resorted to imbibing perfume, jet fuel, and other toxic alcohol-containing substances. There was also an increase in crime and violence, and little reduction in alcoholism, before the health crusade was abandoned.
Still, St. Petersburg lawmaker Andrey Anokhin suggested last week that officials reduce hours for alcohol sales throughout the week and make Wednesday a weekly “Temperance Day.”
Both cities have already suspended alcohol sales from 11pm to 8am and banned drinking in public venues. Anokhin’s bill would further extend hours of restricted sales to 10pm to 11am, with some exceptions for bars and restaurants.
He proposes Wednesday as an alcohol-free day, since it’s in the middle of the work week, when he believes people should focus on their jobs, school work and families. Wednesday is also the traditional day of fasting in the Russian Orthodox church.