Sales of alcohol fell by 15% in Russia in the first nine months of 2009 compared to the same period last year.
Sales of spirits fell by 15-16%, while sales of other alcoholic drinks fell by 14.5%, Vadim Drobiz from the federal centre for the study of the alcohol market told journalists.
A report released earlier this year said the average Russian drinks 17 liters of spirits a year, with some 2 billion liters of alcohol being consumed in Russia annually. Alcohol is also involved in some 80% of murders and 40% of suicides in the country.
Prohibition was briefly introduced in the Soviet Union in 1985 in an attempt to put a halt to the rampant alcoholism that was taking its toll on the nation's economy and health system. But the policy was an utter failure, and the illicit production of moonshine - "samogon"- rocketed, not to mention a sudden rise in sales of medicinal and industrial spirit. The never-popular policy of prohibition was later quietly dropped.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, modern Russia quickly found itself engulfed in an epidemic of alcoholism of catastrophic proportions, as what was already a serious social and health problem transformed into something on an apocalyptic scale.
MOSCOW, December 3 (RIA Novosti)