Category Archives: Health, Alcohol, Smoking, AIDS, Epidemics

NEWSLINK The Ecologist: Ukraine war leaves a long shadow of pollution, ill-health and ravaged industries

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

Over a year after violent conflict began in East Ukraine, indications are emerging of its severe environmental impacts in the highly industrialised Donbas region, and the grave health risks to civilians that will endure long into the future. The area will need international assistance both to reduce the hazards, and to ‘green’ the region’s often polluting industries.

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Looking after yourself in Siberia

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

The ‘rationalisation’ of medical and social services in rural Russia has compelled people to acquire new skills in order to survive, but life for the weakest is very hard – and very expensive. (opendemocracy.net – Georgy Borodyansky, an Omsk-based correspondent for Novaya Gazeta – May 12, 2015) Circumstance has forced the inhabitants of Kurganka, a village in Russia’s Omsk Region, to […]

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30 Years On, Gorbachev Rues Running of His Soviet Anti-Alcohol Campaign

Shelf of Alcoholic Beverages with Red and White Tape Across It

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – May 15, 2015) Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev said that his massive anti-alcohol campaign in the 1980s was too swift and sweeping, and combating heavy drinking – which remains a major problem as Russia’s problem 30 years later – should have been handled more patiently, according to a recent interview. Speaking on […]

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Putin Declares War on Russians’ Health

Medical Symbol with Pole, Serpents, Wings, adapted from image at lanl.gov

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Marc Champion – May 14, 2015) At what point will Russians begin to question the choices being made by their government? Maybe when those choices start killing them. As Bloomberg’s Ilya Arkhipov and Henry Meyer report, Russia’s health system has suffered a severe reversal as a lower oil price has reduced government revenue and spending. Forced to pick […]

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In Putin’s Russia, Universal Health Care Is for All Who Pay

Medical Symbol with Pole, Serpents, Wings, adapted from image at lanl.gov

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Ilya Arkhipov and Henry Meyer – May 13, 2015) Expectant mothers in Moscow must wait as long as six weeks for ultra-sound scans, up from three days last year. Hospital outpatients pay for blood tests and X-rays that were free 12 months ago. And Marif Alekberov, a 27-year-old fireman with leukemia, is being told to find […]

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NEWSLINK Moscow Times/ Vedomosti: Russian Health Care Is Dying a Slow Death

Medical Symbol with Pole, Serpents, Wings, adapted from image at lanl.gov

Changes to the Russian national health care system have proceeded according to an obscure logic and led to very mixed results for medical personnel — and sometimes to lethal results for patients. The authorities wanted to optimize and modernize the system by boosting the quality of medical care and making it more accessible. Instead, medical care has become inaccessible for a large part of the population, especially in rural areas: doctors labor under increased workloads, thereby compromising patient care; mortality […]

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‘Optimization’ of Health Reform Causing Russian Mortality Rate to Rise

Medical Symbol with Pole, Serpents, Wings, adapted from image at lanl.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – April 15, 2015) Russia’s attempts to reform its health services have resulted in a larger number of people in hospitals dying and an increased mortality rate in the country in general, a report by the government’s accounting agency said. The hospital mortality rate increased by 2.6 percent last year compared to the […]

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NEWSLINK Euromaidan Press/Colta.ru: The country of triumphant resentment: Yampolskiy on Russia’s loss of reality

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

One of the most striking developments in Russian society has been the explosive growth of aggression simultaneously with a refusal to accept reality, burying it under ideological fictions. This phenomenon cannot be easily explained. It is often chalked up to the unprecedented amounts of television propaganda. While official propaganda explains a lot, it does not explain everything. Not every society […]

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[CALL FOR PAPERS: State of War: Human Condition and Social Orders:] The Russian Sociological Review

Bookcase file photo, adapted from image at nlm.nih.gov

Subject: The Russian Sociological Review Date: Mon, 06 Apr 2015 12:47:05 -0500 From: Nail Farkhatdinov (farkhatdinov@gmail.com) The Russian Sociological Review (sociologica.hse.ru/en), an international peer-reviewed academic journal published by the National Research University – Higher School of Economics (www.hse.ru), invites contributions from philosophy, social sciences and cognate fields for the special issue entitled State of War: Human Condition and Social Orders. […]

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NEWSLINK International Business Times: Ukraine War Forces A Nation To Talk About A Taboo: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

Many Ukrainians, including soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) associated with a yearlong war that’s killed more than 6,000 people, are leery of going to psychologists. There is still a large stigma attached to seeking psychological care. Some of the field’s practitioners here see a connection to the legacy of Soviet medicine, which focused on treating external ailments, while psychology […]

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NEWSLINK Christian Science Monitor: Fred Weir, Kremlin says Russians are drinking less and exercising more. Are they? Only to a degree, say analysts

Medical Symbol with Pole, Serpents, Wings, adapted from image at lanl.gov

The Kremlin says Russians are drinking and smoking far less and exercising far more than just a few years ago. Has Russia finally gotten the upper hand on the chronic health problems that have caused its demographic decline? Maybe not. Experts warn that while Russians do appear to be living healthier lives now, the improvement shown in figures gathered by […]

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Government: Russians Smoking, Drinking Less Thanks to Putin

Cigarette Being Lit

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – March 30, 2015) More and more Russians are trading in vodka and cigarettes for gym memberships, according to a report released by the government on Sunday. The report was published in a bid to outline the government’s achievements in fulfilling President Vladimir Putin’s so-called “May Orders,” a series of campaign promises – including ones related […]

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NEWSLINK Forbes: 10 Charts That Explain Russia

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

For reasons that are far beyond my ability to explain, Russia is a place that attracts clichés in much the same way that a bright flame attracts moths. Having always found the place confusing, contradictory, and vaguely mysterious, Westerners have settled upon a few choice quotes that supposedly summarize Russia in its entirety. Even today, with the welcome rise of […]

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Russian Government Struggles to Check Surging Cost of Medicine

Medical Symbol with Pole, Serpents, Wings, adapted from image at lanl.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Delphine d’Amora – March 27, 2015) The cost of medicine is rising fast in Russia, hitting consumers and challenging a government that has made its reputation as a bulwark of social stability. The ruble’s fall of nearly 40 percent to the U.S. dollar and 22 percent to the euro since the beginning of 2014 has sent […]

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Health Care Workers to Hunger-Strike in Protest of Labor Conditions

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – March 24, 2015) Health care workers in central Russia threatened to stage a hunger strike starting Monday to protest what they described as “repercussions” against co-workers who demanded better working conditions and higher salaries at previous protests, media reports said. The hunger strike, planned in Ufa, the capital of Russia’s republic of Bashkortostan, […]

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Brighter future beckons for Russians with Down’s syndrome

File Photo of Child with Down's Syndrome, adapted from image at cdc.gov

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Maria Fedorishina, special to RBTH – March 25, 2015) There are some 2,500 babies with Down’s syndrome born in Russia every year. Many of them are abandoned by their parents at birth. However – mainly thanks to volunteer movements – society is now developing a more enlightened view of the condition, with some […]

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HIV is not grounds for deportation, says Russia’s Constitutional Court

Microscopic Image of T-Cells Infected by HIV

According to a ruling by the Constitutional Court of Russia, being HIV-positive does not represent an unconditional basis for deportation from the country for foreign nationals. Speaking to RBTH, human rights advocates called the decision an important achievement in protecting of the rights of people in Russia living with HIV. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Darya Lyubinskaya, special to RBTH […]

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NEWSWATCH The Guardian: Fragile truce brings limited respite to war-weary people of eastern Ukraine: The population of eastern Ukraine faces a humanitarian crisis

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

[“Fragile truce brings limited respite to war-weary people of eastern Ukraine: The population of eastern Ukraine faces a humanitarian crisis with an acute lack of basic amenities and mental health problems taking a heavy toll” – The Guardian – Clár Ní Chonghaile -March 25, 2015] The Guardian reports on the humanitarian impact of conflict in eastern Ukraine. Just over a month after […]

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NEWSWATCH Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières: Ukraine: Voices from the Front Line

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

[Ukraine: Voices from the Front Line – Doctors Without Borders – doctorswithoutborders.org – March 19, 2015] Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) relates experiences of civilians encountered during MSF’s humanitarian relief efforts in war-torn Ukraine. Since May 2014, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has supported around 100 medical facilities on both sides of the front line in Ukraine with medical supplies, in […]

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NEWSWATCH: Pentagon 2008 study claims Putin has Asperger’s syndrome

Vladimir Putin

[“Pentagon 2008 study claims Putin has Asperger’s syndrome” – USA Today – Ray Locker – February 4, 2015] USA Today reports on a U.S. Department of Defense study from 2008, obtained through a Freedom of Information request, theorizing that Russian President Vladimir Putin is autistic, having the neurological condition Asperger’s Syndrome. A study from a Pentagon think tank theorizes … Putin has Asperger’s […]

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New Russian Regulation Says Transgender People Unfit to Drive

Moscow Traffic file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – January 9, 2015) Transgender people may no longer be allowed to drive cars in Russia under new road safety regulations signed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. A decree published on the government website earlier this month lists an array of health conditions that can disqualify someone from getting behind the wheel, among […]

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Lifting the lid on Russia’s bad habits

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Maria Fyodorishina, special to RBTH – January 8, 2015) Psychologists and sociologists have identified several bad habits typical of Russians: smoking, swearing, drinking a lot of tea, and even the habit of passing the blame. What do the statistics say and what are the explanations behind these common indulgences? The most widespread bad […]

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Best of 2014: People of the year

New Year's Eve on Red Square with Fireworks, Kremlin, Saint Basil's, Crowds

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Oleg Yegorov, special to RBTH – December 22, 2014) The year 2014 was complicated, with groundbreaking events aplenty on the political scene, as well as in technology, media and numerous cultural spheres. RBTH presents the Russians who in its view played the most noteworthy roles in politics, science, and culture this year. 1. […]

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Alcohol Kills 500,000 Russians Annually

Shelf of Alcoholic Beverages with Red and White Tape Across It

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – December 2, 2014) Around 500,000 Russians die due to alcohol abuse every year, Russia’s health and safety watchdog said in a statement Monday. More teenagers and women of childbearing age have started consuming alcohol, which lowers life expectancy and contributes to the number of untimely deaths in the country, the statement said. The government has […]

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Moscow Medical Staff Keep Pressure on Authorities With Massive Street Protest

File Photo of Patient in Russian Hospital

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Allison Quinn – December 1, 2014) More than a thousand health care workers took to the capital’s streets Sunday to keep the pressure on authorities amid ongoing medical reforms that critics say are being conducted for financial gain over anything else. The reforms, which were initiated by President Vladimir Putin upon his return to the […]

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RIA Novosti: Top Russian psychiatrist links increased drunk driving to economic strain

Shelf of Alcoholic Beverages with Red and White Tape Across It

(RIA Novosti – Moscow, November 24, 2014) The Russian Health Ministry’s chief freelance psychiatrist [Zurab Kekelidze] has declared that the number of road traffic accidents involving drunk drivers has risen by 10 per cent in Russia this year, possibly due to psychological strain owing to changes to the international and economic situation. “In the first seven months of 2013 the […]

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Russia Beyond the Headlines: U.S.-Russia continue medical cooperation

File Photo of Patient in Russian Hospital

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Victoria Zavyalova, special to RBTH – November 5, 2014) Joint programs in regional hospitals are less sensitive to geopolitical disagreements. The desire and energy of Russian and U.S. scientists are what fuel cooperation between Russia and the United States in the field of medicine, which takes place mainly on a non-governmental level. Research […]

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Health Minister Reaches Out to Medical Workers After Massive Protest

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Allison Quinn – November 5, 2014) Russia’s health minister has promised to consider the demands of Moscow health workers amid ongoing reforms of the capital’s health care system on Monday in the direct aftermath of a thousands-strong street protest, the TASS news agency reported. “The opinions of patients and doctors hold the utmost significance for […]

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The spread of Ebola: Fears and reality

Ebola Virus, adapted from image at nih.gov with credit NAID

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Mikhail Shchelkanov, special to RBTH – October 28, 2014) Mikhail Shchelkanov is the head of the laboratory of Virus Ecology at the Ivanovsky Institute of Virology of the Russian Minstry of Health. This summer, he helped fight Ebola in Guinea. What is the likelihood that these factors could come into play in Europe […]

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Interfax: West Africa Ebola sooner or later to be contained, virus not to reach Russia – Virology Research Institute

Ebola Virus, adapted from image at nih.gov with credit NAID

MOSCOW. Oct 17 (Interfax) – Experts from the Ivanovsky Virology Research Institute of the Russian Health Ministry believe the situation with Ebola in the world is unlikely to reach a level when Russia will have to restrict border entry. “I believe the situation will develop according to a favorable scenario and the outbreak can be contained,” Viktor Larichev, a researcher […]

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Chances of Ebola epidemic reaching Russia are slim, say researchers

Ebola Virus, adapted from image at nih.gov with credit NAID

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Gleb Fedorov, RBTH – October 13, 2014)  Russia has an effective antibacterial system that helps avoid uncontrollable outbreaks of viruses similar to Ebola, says one of the country’s leading epidemiologists. Research by a Boston university also indicates that the chances of the Ebola virus spreading to Russia are currently minimal. According to a study published […]

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RIA Novosti: Ebola in Russia Possible, But Serious Outbreak Unlikely: Public Health Watchdog

Ebola Virus, adapted from image at nih.gov with credit NAID

MOSCOW, October 9 (RIA Novosti) – A serious outbreak of Ebola virus is unlikely in Russia, although sporadic infections among Russians who traveled abroad are possible, the head of Russia’s public health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor said Thursday. “No hysterical reports have ever been made for the Russian Federation, and will never be made, because the situation is under control and all […]

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Poll: Most Russians Would Sacrifice Booze and Cigarettes to Hurt West

Cigarette Being Lit

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – September 4, 2014) More than 70 percent of Russians would ban imports of booze and cigarettes from Western countries in retaliation for sanctions, but few would give up foreign cars or pay an additional tax on vacations abroad, a recent poll indicated. Other popular measures included blacklisting foreign hotels (supported by 77 percent) and banning […]

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Majority of Russia’s Urban Population Is Breathing Highly Polluted Air

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – September 4, 2014) The majority of Russia’s urban population is breathing highly polluted air, including at least 14 million people in 38 cities where pollutant concentrations are 10 times above acceptable levels, according to a recent report by the national weather and environment service. Moscow was among cities that rated high on air pollution, mostly […]

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Russian NGOs Working to Fight AIDS Not ‘Foreign Agents’

HIV Infection Microscopic Photo of Cells

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Allison Quinn – August 15, 2014) Non-governmental organizations working to fight HIV/AIDS in Russia will not be required to register as foreign agents if they receive funding from abroad, Kommersant reported Friday, citing the results of recent inspections by the Justice Ministry. The inspections, which began in June at the government’s request, covered dozens of […]

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Drugs Agency Proposes Giving Range of Social Benefits to Recovering Addicts

Russian Drug Den File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – August 1, 2014) Russia’s drug control agency has proposed providing free housing, food subsidies and home attendants to recovering addicts to help them in their rehabilitation, in a bill that has drawn sharp criticism from opponents who argue it would encourage drug use, a news report said. The bill of amendments to […]

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Cold turkey in Russia; In Yekaterinburg, Yevgeny Roizman’s City Without Drugs Foundation has been engaged in some very questionable practices. But why has there been so little discussion?

Russian Drug Den File Photo

(opendemocracy.net – Elena Vlasenko – June 30, 2014) Elena Vlasenko is a Russian journalist Russia has no treatment programme for drug addicts; cold turkey is the only way they can kick the habit, either in prison or in rehab centres like Yevgeny Roizman’s City Without Drugs Foundation. But the foundation has been engaged in some very questionable practices. On 30 […]

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No Rehab for Russia’s Drug Addicts

Russian Drug Den File Photo

(The Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Allison Quinn – June 26, 2014) As the world marks the United Nations’ International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking on Thursday, millions of drug addicts in Russia have nowhere to go for treatment, and specialists are in despair over the lack of progress in the country’s rehabilitation system. The Federal Drug Control […]

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Nicotine nation: The story of Russia’s addiction to the cigarette

Cigarette Being Lit

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Georgy Manaev, RBTH) On June 1, 2014, Russian lawmakers banned smoking in trains, hotels, cafes, and playgrounds. For a country where tobacco has been popular for more than 400 years, this is not the first action taken to restrict smoking. RBTH takes a trip back in time to uncover the history of smoking […]

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Smoking in Russia: kicking the habit

Cigarette Being Lit

(opendemocracy.net – Diana Quirmbach – June 3, 2014) Diana Quirmbach is a PhD candidate at University College London. More people smoke in Russia than almost anywhere else in the world, but the government is finally catching up, in clamping down. On 1 June 2014, the landscape of smoking changed dramatically in Russia. While efforts to control tobacco are not new […]

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Russians Are World’s 2nd Highest Spenders on Alcohol

Shelf of Alcoholic Beverages with Red and White Tape Across It

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 29, 2014) Russian consumers ranked second only to Estonians in terms of the amount of money they spent on alcoholic beverages last year, Euromonitor International said in a report. While Estonian consumers spent 6.5 percent of their cash on beer, wine or spirits in 2013, Russians spent 5.8 percent, or $61.5 million, on alcohol. […]

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New Law Could Hit Russian Smokers With Massive Cigarette Price Hike

Cigarette Being Lit

(Moscow Time – themoscowtimes.com – May 28, 2014) As Russians brace themselves for a public smoking ban to come into effect on Sunday, lawmakers have submitted a new draft law hiking the minimum price on cigarettes in the latest bid to change the country’s attitude to smoking. The new law would see a 41-percent increase in the minimum price for […]

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Russians Still Among Heaviest Alcohol Drinkers Worldwide, Report Says

Shelf of Alcoholic Beverages with Red and White Tape Across It

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 15, 2014) Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev reprimanded the head of Russia’s alcohol watchdog as the World Health Organization published a report classing Russians as some of the world’s heaviest drinkers. Medvedev signed an order faulting Federal Alcohol Market Regulatory Service head Igor Chuyan for “substandard organization of work to enforce government orders,” on Monday, […]

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Russian schoolchildren no longer fit into their uniforms

File Photo of U.S. Diplomat Teaching Class to Russian Students

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Marina Obrazkova, RBTH – April 15, 2014) According to statistics, children in Russia have grown bigger over the past 10 years, largely due to changes in lifestyle and the quality of food. Experts have expressed concern over the trend and claim it is a symptom of a growing health problem among the country’s […]

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Interfax: Most Russians like alcohol, vodka is top preference – sociologists

Shelf of Alcoholic Beverages with Red and White Tape Across It

(Interfax – April 1, 2014) Some 68 percent of Russians drink alcohol from time to time, and vodka, sparking wine and beer top the preference list, the Public Opinion Foundation said. Men (75 percent) like drinking more than women (68 percent). Twenty-one percent of respondents said they never drank alcohol and 10 percent stopped drinking, 4 percent of them did […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] State Council Presidium meeting on family, motherhood and childhood policy

File Photo of Russian Expectant Couple with Mother in Hospital Bed

(Kremlin.ru – February 17, 2014) Vladimir Putin held a State Council Presidium meeting on family, motherhood and childhood policy, in particular with regard to implementing the May 2012 Presidential Executive Orders. Taking part in the meeting were Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko, Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets, Presidential Aide Igor Levitin, the heads of federal ministries and agencies, and a […]

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NEWSLINK: Fast food conquers Russia, brings obesity

File Photo of Russian McDbnald's Crew with U.S. Diplomat

[“Fast food conquers Russia, brings obesity” – ITAR-TASS – Lyudmila Alexandrova – February 18, 2014 – http://en.itar-tass.com/opinions/1676] ITAR-TASS tries to blame McDonald’s for Russian obesity: Russia’s first McDonald’s fast food restaurant opened on downtown Moscow’s Pushkinskaya Square in late January 1990, causing unprecedented buzz among Muscovites who formed a multi-kilometer line to taste American fast food. International fast food came […]

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Admiral’s suicide shakes Russia’s healthcare system

File Photo of Patient in Russian Hospital

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – Natalia Antonova, Anna Arutunyan – February 17, 2014) The shocking suicide of a Navy admiral has prompted official investigations into the bureaucratic hurdles Russian cancer patients face when trying to obtain pain medication. According to the experts, administrative problems, a lingering Soviet mentality and a misguided drug policy are to blame for continued lack of […]

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NEWSLINK: Shape Up Sochi

File Photo of Sochi Olympics Banner Near Highway in Warm Weather with Vehicle and Cyclicsts Nearby

[“Shape Up Sochi” – Wall Street Journal – Betsy McKay – SOCHI – February 11, 2014 – http://blogs.wsj.com/dailyfix/2014/02/11/shape-up-sochi/] The Wall Street Journal covers efforts to use the Sochi Olympics to encourage health and fitness among Russians. The Olympics are supposed to inspire people to shape up and go for their inner gold, right? In Russia, that’s a big “if.” A […]

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Do Russians need psychological help?

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Anna Trofimova, RBTH – February 6, 2014) The Soviet experience taught Russians that it was better to suffer than admit the need for help, but times are changing. It should come as no surprise that living in Russia is hard: It’s cold, wages are low and the government is unresponsive. Nevertheless, Russians have […]

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