Russians Still Among Heaviest Alcohol Drinkers Worldwide, Report Says

Shelf of Alcoholic Beverages with Red and White Tape Across It

(Moscow Times – – 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, Interfax reported Wednesday.

Though not clear if the reprimand and the report were connected, WHO statistics released the same day ranked Russia fourth worldwide in terms of alcohol consumption, with the average Russian consuming 15.1 liters of pure alcohol annually.

While Belarus, Moldova and Lithuania topped the alcohol list, Russia and Ukraine ranked higher in terms of dangerous drinking patterns, thought to contribute to higher numbers of early deaths f rom liver disease.

A spokesman for Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich told news agency Itar-Tass Wednesday that Medvedev’s reprimand was linked to low productivity among workers in Chuyan’s department in 2012 and 2013.

In 2010 the government pledged to reduce Russian alcohol consumption by 55 percent by 2020 and the past years have seen increasingly stringent regulations on the sale and promotion of alcohol.

As of last year, prices for vodka have increased, alcohol is prohibited from being sold in stores after 11 p.m, and beer, which was previously not classified as an alcoholic beverage, has been banned from street kiosks.