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Russia has lifted a ban on the sale of “Hawthorn”, which killed about 80 people

In Russia on 9 October has expired ban on the sale of “Hawthorn” — bath concentrate, which is used as a cheap alcoholic drink. The ban was introduced in December 2016, when Irkutsk fake (i.e., it contains an extremely dangerous methyl alcohol) “Hawthorn” has poisoned more than 120 people — 78 killed. All this time the entire Russian police and tried to fight the proliferation of counterfeit booze. “Medusa” tells what caused the ban “Hawthorn”, whether really it worked and how the ban has affected the statistics of poisoning.


Photo: press-service of administration of Rospotrebnadzor in the Irkutsk region

What happened in Irkutsk?

In mid-December, 2016 in the district of Irkutsk Novo-Lenino 123 people were poisoned means “bath Concentrate “Hawthorn”” — they used it as a cheap alcoholic beverage . Later it turned out that in illegal workshops for the production of this tool (these plants were in Irkutsk, one — directly to Novo-Lenino) instead of ethyl alcohol in the bottles with the “Hawthorn” poured methyl — it is indistinguishable to the taste and smell of ethanol, but deadly to humans. In the end 78 people died. Forensic medical examination showed that 74 people died from drinking methyl alcohol, the rest were due to excessive doses of ethyl.

What was the reaction of the authorities?

December 19, the city authorities imposed a state of emergency and temporarily banned the sale of any non-food alcohol-containing liquids. A criminal case was initiated under part 3 of article 238 (Production, storage, transportation or sale of the goods and production, performance of works or rendering services not meeting safety requirements). On it and associated with poisoning criminal cases in Irkutsk in December and January have detained 31 people. Among the detained are the owners of retail outlets, their employees and sellers, the organizers of illegal plants for the production of “Hawthorn” and other surrogates, as well as the Deputy head of the Irkutsk regional Department of Rospotrebnadzor Mikhail Loginov and the Deputy Minister of property relations of the region Evgeniya Nefedova; the latter two were suspended from posts.

The President of Russia Vladimir Putin has demanded to toughen restrictions on the sale of alcohol-containing products, household products, and 23 December, the head of Rospotrebnadzor Anna Popova its decree forbade its sale. The exception was made only for perfumes and fluids, windshield washing fluids. The ban has been extended several time, and officials reported that the number of deaths from poisoning with alcohol-containing liquids after that, the number of regions decreased by 20%, and some — twice.

Who was punished for poisoning people in Irkutsk?

In the case of “the Hawthorn tree” was held by several authorities. After the mass deaths of the Deputy Minister of property relations of the region Evgeny Nefedov suspected that she allegedly knew that in one of the pavilions, where they sell “Hawthorn”, illegally selling alcohol — but close it did not, and issued a warning to entrepreneurs. In June 2017 the charges it took.

A similar story happened with the head of the precinct of Leninskiy police Department Denis Cheremisin — first he was accused of negligence, however, in February dropped the charges. And Nefedova, and Cheremisin was reinstated in the posts and went back to work.

The investigation against other defendants is continuing. Some of them were arrested, others under house arrest (in particular, under the subscription is Lognow of the regional Rospotrebnadzor). The court case is not transferred.

Irkutsk authorities have restricted access to alcohol?

From January 2017 the government of the Irkutsk region and the mayoralty of Irkutsk has tightened work with people who rent land for trade pavilions — they terminated the contracts for the attempted illegal sale of alcohol. The administration of Irkutsk also demolished 12 pavilions, illegally selling alcohol; another 48 sites now go to the courts.

All Irkutsk police officers conducted almost daily raids in places of production and trade surrogate alcohol. During this time in the Irkutsk region withdrew from circulation more than 500 thousand liters of liquid.

In addition, local authorities have repeatedly introduced temporary bans on the sale of alcohol. In recent times, in the period from 27 June to 1 July in Irkutsk was not allowed to buy alcohol later at 14.00. Such a measure of power explained to care about the students, which in those days was the prom.

At the same time in Irkutsk, a law on regulation of retail trade by alcohol. The author of the bill, the Deputy of legislative Assembly of the Irkutsk region Alexey Kozyura, offers two restrictions — a ban on the sale of alcohol in stores, which are located in residential buildings near the entrances, and a ban on trade in alcohol from 21.00 till noon (similar bans have long been in almost all the regions of Russia).

A member supported community-based organizations, for example regional society of large families. It was opposed by Irkutsk businessmen. They said the infringement of their rights: the adoption of the law, according to them, hurt their trade and will reduce the tax impact. In addition, they indicated that the new restrictions will lead to further spread of counterfeit alcohol, similar to a “Hawthorn”. Now the bill is being finalized based on these arguments.

What happened with the prohibition of surrogate alcohol in Russia in 2017?

The restrictions were varied. In December 2016 was banned the sale of liquids with alcohol content above 25% in January 2017, this rate changed to 28%. In addition, the ban introduced restrictions on the price. It can’t be lower than set by the Ministry of industry and trade of the Russian Federation minimum price of half a liter of vodka, liquor and other alcoholic beverages with an alcohol content of 28%. Thus, it was impossible to sell liquids with alcohol content of less than 60 rubles per 100 grams.

In March 2017, the CPS has again tightened the ban, extending it to food and liquid additives and flavourings. It is under such the manufacturers of cheap alcohol started to release their products after the ban — for the year production in this sector has doubled.

The state Duma in the spring session adopted in the third final reading the law banning the sale of alcohol through vending machines, ban the sale of alcoholic soft drinks and the inclusion of Russian manufacturers of alcohol drugs.

What happens to the “Hawthorn” now?

October 9 was the deadline for the ban of the CPS, concerning the “Hawthorn”. Thus, it again can be traded throughout Russia. The reasons for this decision in the Federal service 9 October did not call any media; October 11, representatives of the office still was not available for comment. TASS with reference to own source in the Russian government said that authorities are discussing the extension of the ban — and is now preparing the necessary documents.

Two residents of Irkutsk said “the Medusa”, which even during the operation of the official ban, they continued to buy surrogate alcohol, or moonshine, but noted that to get the “Hawthorn” was really difficult.

Cases of poisoning surrogate alcohol continued in different regions, but with fewer victims. In June 2017 the mass methanol poisoning occurred in Sergiev Posad near Moscow. There poisoned no less than 15 people, five of them died. In July from an unnamed poisoning alcohol-containing liquid died three Krasnoyarsk.

In total, according to Rosstat, in January-August 2017 from alcohol poisoning in Russia died 4629 people, over the same period last year 5726. Thus, the data of Rosstat coincide with statistics of the regional authorities — the number of poisonings with surrogate alcohol after prohibition “Hawthorn” has fallen by almost 20%.

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