Tag Archives: Only in Russia

Actual alcohol history: Russian vodka saves elephants’ lives

(Originally written December 14, 2012)

Vodka may be shortening the lifespan of the typical Russian male, but when it comes to a couple circus elephants stranded in Siberia, it’s actually a lifesaver.  As RIA Novosti reports, “the two Indian elephants, owed by a traveling Polish circus, were transported from Novokuznetsk to Omsk on late Thursday” when the “hay in the truck caught fire from the diesel engine heating the cargo section.”  With their transport going down in flames, the southbound pachyderms were left to hitch a ride in the middle of the highway.

Fortunately, liquid relief was on the way.  The two animals were taken to a nearby garage, where “As an added precaution, the elephants were served two cases of vodka mixed with warm water,” according to the Russian news agency.  Apparently, that really hit the spot.  “They roared like it was the jungle…Must have been happy,” the district official told RIA Novosti.

Mind you, they weren’t necessarily warmer; it’s just that the booze turned all their bad feelings into good feelings.  As the BBC reports, “alcohol can make animals feel warmer but it actually lowers their core body temperature, scientists say.”  But despite the objections of these unnamed scientists, the BBC notes that “Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper quoted Novosibirsk zoo director Rostislav Shilo as saying that the elephants were not harmed or intoxicated by the vodka, and that without it they would have died of hypothermia or pneumonia.”  Note to self: Pack bottle of Russian Standard in outdoor survival kit!

Actual alcohol history: Russia bans beer in convenience stores

(Originally written January 2, 2013)

In an international news story that will surely have the Ontario government raising a toast of approval, Russia has banned the sale of beer at roadside kiosks, the post-Soviet equivalent to convenience stores.  As The Associated Press reports, “new laws could deal a finishing blow to a symbol of the country’s lively and disorderly post-communist free market,” with alcohol sales reportedly accounting for up to 40 per cent of kiosk revenues.  Now, in order to buy alcohol, Russians will actually have to go to a restaurant or a store “of at least 50 square meters.”  No word as to whether the latter are run by a government-controlled monopoly, mind you.😉

And on a related note, Putin has announced that beer will no longer be considered food, officially classifying it as an alcoholic beverage.  I guess it’s not for breakfast anymore; according to the AP, “it can’t be sold in any store from 11 p.m. to 8 a.m.”  Of course, none of the LCBO stores in Toronto stay open until 11…

Putin, who can hardly be confused with Premier Dad (unless your father’s an ex-KGB, semi-supreme leader), apparently passed the policies to address an ongoing national health concern.  As per the AP, “Heavy drinking and smoking are cited as two of the main factors in Russia’s high mortality rate — average life expectancy for males born in 2006 was 60-61, according to a UN Development Program report.”  In response to the latter factor, he’s even considering banning cigarette sales from those same kiosks, a measure that would, according to Russia’s Ministry for Economic Development, force 175,000 kiosks to close at a cost of 500,000 jobs.

Hey, I’d like to think that the Ontario Liberals wouldn’t go that far, eh?