A Keen Grasp of the Obvious


Just about every Russian leader for the past several hundred years has at one point or another felt compelled to weigh in on the country’s national pastime, drinking. For some observers, it’s a bit of a mystery why they bother, as these efforts have failed to make much progress in battling this deadly problem. Perhaps in response to the recent report from The Lancet which found that alcohol kills more Russians than war, President Dmitry Medvedev has recently weighed in, expressing his bewilderment as to why Russians are drinking even more today than they did in the dark 1990s, when evil oligarchs ruled the land instead of the enlightened rulers of more recent times.

Medvedev’s radical solution to the problem? At a recent meeting with the Minister of Health, the head of state boldly declared that “A corresponding programme needs to be prepared and certain measures adopted in this direction.”  Given that the second most popular brand of vodka in Russia bears the name of the prime minister (the president’s brand doesn’t sell that well), the authorities may require something more than this along the lines of preventative education efforts.

The other topic of conversation, as reported by our favorite Kremlin mouthpiece, RBK Daily, was the (closely related) ongoing demographic crisis in the country. The minister modestly called an eyebrow-raising 28.3% reduction in mortality “a positive tendency“, while the president sent a loud and clear message to the people that “crisis or no crisis, you’ve got to create a family“, before blowing his own horn a bit by lauding the praises of one of the “national projects” that he had been in charge of before assuming his current post.

Here’s our exclusive translation of the entire piece as posted on the RBK website.

D.Medevev has declared that they drink a lot in Russia

President of the RF Dmitry Medvedev has expressed alarm on account ofthe situation with drunkenness in Russia and has entrusted thegovernment to elaborate a programme for the struggle with alcoholismand other harmful habits.

“We are drinking more now than in the 1990s, although these were hardtimes. A corresponding programme needs to be prepared and certainmeasures adopted in this direction”, – declared the head of state at ameeting with head of Minzdravsotsrazvitiye [Ministry of Health andSocial Development] Tatiana Golikova in Gorki, reports the radiostation “Mayak”.

In her turn, T.Golikova noted that Minzdravsotsrazvitiye in conjunctionwith the Ministry of sport, tourism and youth policy is conducting aprogramme for the popularization of a healthy lifestyle.

Speaking about the demographic situation in the country, the ministerrecounted that in five months of this year in the RF were born 699.9thsd. children, which is 3% more than in the analogous period of lastyear, while mortality was reduced by 28.3%.

The key factors in such a reduction, in the words of T.Golikova, becamea reduction in mortality as the result of road traffic incidents by 13%and a reduction by 5% of mortality as the result of cardiovasculardiseases. “This is a positive tendency”, – underlined the minister.

As T.Golikova reported, in five months of this year in Russia wererecorded 356 thsd. marriages, which is 6.1% higher than in the sameperiod of last year, while divorces recorded were 11 thsd. less (areduction of 3.7%).

“This is truly good indicators. This signifies that from thepsychological point of view our people understand that crisis or nocrisis, you’ve got to create a family”, – declared D.Medvedev.

The president noted that such demographic indicators became theconsequence of the realization of the national project “Health”, whichis being conducted in the country several years already.

30 June 2009

The above image of the Putinka vodka bottles, lined up to spell “kaput”, comes from a political poster contest organized by Grani.ru.