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Vladimir Putin orders clampdown on 'surrogate' alcohol as deaths rise

By Emilita, Dec 24, 2016 | |
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  1. Emilita

    A bottle of hawthorn bath essence, confiscated by Russian authorities

    Over 60 people have died after drinking fake batch of bath tincture in Siberian city of Irkutsk

    Russia’s president Vladimir Putin has ordered the government to crack down on so-called surrogate alcohol, as the death toll from consumption of a fake batch of bath tincture exceeded 60.

    Putin on Wednesday demanded new regulations be put in place to tighten controls over the production and sale of liquids including perfume, cleaning fluids, medicines and cosmetics that contain more than 25% alcohol. He also told the government to look at increasing the legal consequences for violations in the production and sale of these items.

    The death toll in the Siberian city of Irkutsk over recent days has now reached 62. Investigators on Monday said they had discovered an underground laboratory in the city making fake boyaryshnik, a tincture supposedly meant to be added to baths for relaxation. The fluid, which normally contains 93% ethanol, as well as hawthorn extract and lemon oil, is widely drunk in Russia as a cheap substitute for alcohol.

    However, police found that the batch in Irkutsk contained methanol, a poisonous substance found in antifreeze, instead of ethanol. Local authorities declared a state of emergency in Irkutsk on Monday, and across the wider region on Tuesday. Police seized thousands of bottles of the liquid from shops and kiosks across the region, and authorities ordered a temporary ban on the sale of all fluids containing alcohol.

    Russia’s president Vladimir Putin has ordered the government to crack down on so-called surrogate alcohol, as the death toll from consumption of a fake batch of bath tincture exceeded 60.

    Putin on Wednesday demanded new regulations be put in place to tighten controls over the production and sale of liquids including perfume, cleaning fluids, medicines and cosmetics that contain more than 25% alcohol. He also told the government to look at increasing the legal consequences for violations in the production and sale of these items.

    The death toll in the Siberian city of Irkutsk over recent days has now reached 62. Investigators on Monday said they had discovered an underground laboratory in the city making fake boyaryshnik, a tincture supposedly meant to be added to baths for relaxation. The fluid, which normally contains 93% ethanol, as well as hawthorn extract and lemon oil, is widely drunk in Russia as a cheap substitute for alcohol.

    Siberian city declares emergency as dozens die from drinking alcoholic bath tincture
    Read more
    However, police found that the batch in Irkutsk contained methanol, a poisonous substance found in antifreeze, instead of ethanol. Local authorities declared a state of emergency in Irkutsk on Monday, and across the wider region on Tuesday. Police seized thousands of bottles of the liquid from shops and kiosks across the region, and authorities ordered a temporary ban on the sale of all fluids containing alcohol.

    Twelve people have been arrested for distributing the fake batch, and courts in Irkutsk remanded them in custody on Wednesday.

    According to Irkutsk region’s ministry of health, 107 people have been poisoned by the batch of fake boyaryshnik, with 62 dead so far. Around half of them died in hospital, while others were already dead on arrival. There are still 36 people in hospital. Four people have been released having made what local doctors called a “miracle recovery”.

    There are two main problems in Russia’s surrogate alcohol market: first is the widespread consumption of items marked as perfumes or bath tinctures. They are exempt from sales restrictions and taxes that normal alcoholic drinks would carry but are often sold at drinks kiosks where it is obvious people would purchase them for consumption. In one Russian region, automated street machines selling Boyaryshnik were installed earlier this year.

    The second problem is fake alcohol: there have been numerous cases of underground factories making cheap vodka or whisky and attaching fake labels to the bottles.

    In Irkutsk, both problems combined to lethal effect, as dozens died from ingesting a tainted version of something that was in any case not designed as a drink.

    The Irkutsk tragedy is an extreme example, but deaths from drinking low-quality alcohol are common. Russia’s consumer watchdog said that during the first nine months of 2016, 9,300 Russians died from alcohol poisoning. Of these, 1,200 had died from methanol poisoning, the watchdog said.

    By: Shaun Walker, in Moscow - The Guardian/Dec. 22, 2016
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2...-bath-tincture-irkutsk?CMP=share_btn_tw#img-1
    Photograph: Interior Ministry/Handout/EPA

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    Emilita
    I eat green eggs and ham.

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