A few days earlier, Putin met with another governor from the Kirov region. The president of Russia also discussed the topic of alcohol there – more precisely, the “high level of alcoholization of the population” in the cities of the Kirov region. – There is no need to sweep anything under the rug – argued the governor Putin. – I am asking you to pay attention to this.
Never before has Putin talked so often about the problems of alcohol addiction in Russia. One of his rare comments on this topic appeared at a traditional press conference in 2016. The journalist then asked the president about the fight against the illegal trade in industrial alcohol – after 77 Irkutsk residents had poisoned themselves to death with moonshine. Putin replied that “alcoholization” is indeed Russia’s “problem”. However, he immediately added optimistically that, for example, people in the Nordic countries drink the same amount (which is not true).
Putin’s statements at his meetings with the governors are even stranger, as neither the Volodymyr nor the Kirov Oblast are among the regions with the highest rates of alcoholism. The Russian Ministry of Health does not provide statistics on this indicator for all regions, but the agency said the situation is worst in the Far East and the north of the country. However, the president did not talk to governors about “alcoholization of society.”
Our source close to the Kremlin explains that the mention of this topic also surprised the governors themselves, as it is not “even in the top ten” in these regions. Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Meduza that Putin’s statements were related to the fact that both regions “do not fit in with the general trend” in recent years of reducing alcohol consumption in Russia.
However, two other sources close to the Russian presidential administration argue that Putin did not do so because of statistics. According to them, the president began to pay special attention to this problem, as Russian officials began to drink alcohol much more often and much more in the context of the war in Ukraine. Putin is particularly concerned about the condition of “some of his inner circle,” Medusa sources emphasize.
– Since February, people have reacted in this way to stress. Ministers, their deputies, even some deputy prime ministers, employees of the presidential administration and the Security Council, some heads of state corporations, governors drink more, one source says. He also notes that the main reason for this “stress” is the actual damage caused to Russia by the invasion and sanctions, while Putin believes officials should deal with these difficulties easily.
As we wrote earlier, almost none of the Russian officials knew before February 24 that the president had decided to start a full-scale war with Ukraine, so many of them were completely lost and “did not know what to do” in the first months of the war. – They sat down to a glass in February and some of them are still drinking it today – sums up one of our interlocutors.
Medusa sources believe that the drinking situation of Russia’s top officials has started to worry Putin because “discipline has suffered”: – Someone disappears before an important event, someone is reporting events in an incomprehensible way. The public is already seeing this.
Putin himself, as reported in the media, now hardly ever drinks (unlike during his student days). But, for example, he recently publicly described how he once celebrated his birthday with Chinese President Xi Jinping: – I will not hide, we drank a glass of vodka, cut some sausages.