Russians should drink more wine to fight widespread alcohol abuse, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has said.
‘Winemaking is one of the sectors that should be developed and contribute to the eradication of alcoholism,’ he said at a meeting with the governor of Russia’s southern Krasnodar Territory – a region with a burgeoning local wine industry.
‘Countries where this sector is strong have no problems with alcohol abuse: problems with alcohol abuse stem from ‘other drinks,’ Medvedev said.
Dmitri Kovalev of Moscow wine merchant Simple Wines told Decanter.com that ‘Government action against alcoholism has not differentiated among alcoholic beverages’.
But he pointed out the legal difficulties in obtaining wine import licences have contributed to less wine on shelves, adding that wines from Georgia – once, along with Moldovan wines, the most-consumed in Russia – remained banned.
Furthermore import duties bring the cost of any imported wine to at least RUB200 (€5), a price that is too high for many Russians, he said.
‘Vodka is still available for only RUB100, to say nothing about fake alcohol, so I don’t know how our government is going to promote wines with such tax policy.’
The Russian Health Ministry estimates per capita consumption of pure alcohol at 15 litres per person.
Recent figures indicate that every fifth death in Russia is alcohol-related: official statistics show that each year alcohol abuse kills 500,000 Russians.
Written by Panos Kakaviatos