More than 100 people have died over the past few weeks and more than 2.500 have fallen ill in Russia after drinking tainted alcohol. Hospital wards are full of patients suffering from hepatitis and liver problems. A state of emergency has been declared in the Pskov region west of Moscow, officials their have begun seizing alcohol on sale.
They have found the alcohol contains substances usually used in medicine. Russia’s interior minister says poisoning caused by tainted alcohol kills 42.000 Russians every year. Bottles in shops often contain neither wine nor spirits but potentially fatal liquids. The authorities say a lot of imported liquor is faked.
Poverty forces many drinkers to resort to surrogates, like medical tinctures and bath cleaning fluids. In the poorer regions of the country, drinkers make their own brew using cologne and bath water. Russia’s fondness for drink is nothing new. It’s estimated one in three men and one in seven women is an alcoholic. But the new drinking trends have the government concerned the country is killing itself.