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Russia Cracks Down on Smoking, Drinking

Published: October 23, 2013 (Issue # 1783)



  • With Russia as one of world leaders in alcohol consumption per capita, the new legislation aims to reduce alcoholism related health concerns.
    Photo: Vladimir Filonov / SPT

The St. Petersburg government has passed legislation banning the sale of alcohol between the hours of 10 p.m. and 11 a.m. The law passed its third and final reading on Wednesday, Oct.16.

The federal law that regulates the sale of alcohol was introduced in July 2012. At the time, the sale of alcohol was restricted between the hours of 11 p.m. and 8 a.m. Now, St. Petersburg Governor Georgy Poltavchenko has proposed legislation aimed at increasing the prohibition. 32 out of 50 deputies agreed with the governors measures.

The law was first proposed in May 2013. After a first successful reading, a second reading brought in some changes, shortening the hours when alcohol would be unavailable for sale from 11 p.m. to 9 a.m. During the bills third reading, however, a decision was made to maintain the initial timeframe and restrict the sale of alcohol between 10 p.m. until 11 a.m. After the final reading, the legislation was sent for the governors signature.

In addition to the restricted hours of sale, drinks containing alcohol will no longer be sold at street markets, railway stations, near schools and hospitals or in other places where crowds of people gather. Restaurants, bars and clubs are exempt from the new legislation, which also exempts the sale of beer from the new law.

Some deputies, however, do not believe the new restrictions will help in the fight against alcoholism. Moreover, some customers in local shops when told of the new rules expressed the opinion that the ban on alcohol could make the situation even worse as it will lead to the illegal sale of alcohol.

Internet forums are full of advice about where to get alcohol in case when the drinks run out but the party continues. Websites selling overpriced shot glasses available for delivery 24 hours a day offer alcohol as a bonus for the purchase. Officially, no laws are being broken since only the sale of alcohol is prohibited, while offering it as a gift is allowed. In addition, any organizations tasked with overseeing the alcohol industry do not take into account Internet shops.

Among other opinions expressed by deputies was the idea that it is the middle-class that suffers most of all from the restrictions those who work the whole day and can only go to the shop once the working day is over.

I dont think that we will destroy alcoholism in this way, said Maxim, a customer in a local supermarket speaking to The St. Petersburg Times. It just causes more difficulties for ordinary people. If it turns out that I forgot to buy a bottle of wine beforehand, during the day, or just didnt have the opportunity, I will not be able to buy something to drink when I go to visit my friends or relatives,

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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