Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Whatever happened with the vodka crisis?

A few weeks back, headlines of western newspapers warned for a coming "vodka crisis" in Russia. The country was to turn dry due to a clerical error. Reminiscences of Gorbachev's anti-alcohol campaign in the late 1980's, made us recall images of people drinking whatever liquor they could get hold of. Then, nothing more was heard of this potentially dangerous crisis. Why so?
The reason is simple. Consumer is king - in Russia as elsewhere. As long as there is money to be made, any problems may be solved. And, lo and behold, how much money wouldn't be lost if Russia dried up? This was simply unthinkable, and the problem - if one may speak of a real problem - was quickly solved.

Then, what was the problem? Apparently, a special print-shop making tax-labels for vodka bottles was late with a delivery to vodka factories. Thus, vodka factories would not be able to put out their products on the market. Strangely enough, it never appeared to western media that there might be other print-shops to do the job, or that this particular print-shop might catch up on production. No, the story was simply too good to be passed, regardless of the unfeasability that Russia would run out of vodka.
Today, many liquor stores are very service-minded. In major cities, it might even happen that a store that doesn't have a special brand, might get hold of a bottle for you within a few hours and then deliver it to your home - sometimes at any hour of the day. So, regrettably, the "vodka crisis" once more turned western media to focus on an obvious haux, which was well in line with western prejudice towards Russia as a wholly backward country. It stands out as a true paradox, that the alleged vodka crisis almost got as much attention in western media as the recent NGO-bill. The list of Russia's problems is long - democracy, civil liberties, media, human rights, corruption etc - but lack of vodka is not one of them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jag talar o presterar - alltså finns jag *S* NU såg jag att du kommenterat i min blogg *S* Imaginär - pyttsan *S* Eller så talade du med ett spöke i minst 1½ h när vi diskuterade ev uppsatsupplägg om rosornas krig *s* Men här e jag nu och finns *ler Zlatanstort*/jess