Oct 11, 2021
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“I won’t buy half a liter of vodka for 300 rubles – it’s expensive”: what are the reasons for the massive methanol poisoning in the Orenburg region

Because of surrogate alcohol in the Orenburg region, 67 people suffered, 34 of them died. At the same time, the majority of those who died and ended up in the hospital are not alcoholics, ready to drink anything that burns, but ordinary citizens. However, they knew that they were buying “burned” goods. Why excise alcohol is not popular in the Orenburg region – in the report of RT special correspondent Alexei Boyarsky.

The first reports of alcohol poisoning in Orsk and the districts of the Orenburg region closest to it were received on October 6. First, information came about several victims in the Dombarsky and Yasnensky districts. Then the number of victims began to grow.

Investigators quickly found out that the victims purchased surrogate alcohol from rural stores, whose owners, in turn, purchased it from a warehouse in Orsk.

Soon, the organizer of the trade, 29-year-old Babazadeh Shirvan Sakhavat Oglu, was detained, along with nine other people involved in the distribution of poisonous drinks.

In the territory of the trading and purchasing base, where Babadze rented warehouses, investigators found eleven 200-liter barrels of methyl alcohol, and almost 1,300 bottles packed in boxes. How much of the poison has already gone to retail outlets is unknown.

The Investigative Committee opened six criminal cases, combined into one proceeding under Part 3 of Art. 238 (production, storage, transportation or sale of goods and products that do not meet safety requirements), as well as clause “a” of Part 6 of Art. 171.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (illegal business) and Part 1 of Art. 171.3 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (illegal production and circulation of ethyl alcohol).

“One-ruble” in plastic

On October 9, in the village of Krasnochabansky, they buried those who had poisoned themselves with surrogate alcohol, while in Orsk the court chose a measure of restraint for Gulnara Tashirova, the owner of the Udacha store, where the dead had acquired the poison.

However, despite the absence of the owner (she was arrested for two months), “Luck” continued to work, since it is the only outlet in Krasny Chaban.

There is nowhere else to buy products, household chemicals and other manufactured goods. The nearest shops are located in Orsk – 40 km along a wildly shaky coal-dust road. Well, or in Kazakhstan, which is very close here.

According to local residents, there was practically no trade in factory vodka in Udach – it made no sense.

“About 500 people live here permanently,” a local pensioner explains to me. – Mostly state employees, who have real money – about 12-15 thousand rubles. per month. The shopkeepers don’t care what we sell from under the counter. They can bring us here any of the best honest alcohol. But we won’t buy. Personally, I won’t buy half a liter of vodka for 300 rubles. – dear to me. They are guided by our demand. I don’t drink myself, but if you came to visit me now, you would buy that very vodka for 130 rubles on the table at Udach. She was always normal. Well, maybe a little weak. “

“The very same vodka” in the village is called “one hundred rubles” – for a very long time it cost exactly 100 rubles, then it went up. It was impossible not to guess that this was not a factory product – the liquid was sold in plastic bottles.

Local residents believe that the head of the municipality, Murat Suenbayev, could not have been unaware of this.

“Well this is his shop,” one of the interlocutors shrugs. – Formally, he only owns the building, and Radik and Gulya Tashirovs rent this premises from him. But even if he is not the one who sells that vodka, how, living here, can you not know what they are selling?

According to the villagers, when the holiday happened, everyone went to “Fortune” just for the “hundred-ruble”. In the list of poisoned – not lowered drunks, but ordinary people who arranged a feast.

“Alexander Ivanovich was a very good electrician, everyone respected him. And his wife Galina … They have been pensioners for a long time. On October 6 we went to the bathhouse of the neighbors. Then we had lunch and drank at dinner. And so, ”I was told during the funeral of the Yevchenko spouses on October 9.

In total, three poisoned persons were buried at the village cemetery that day. And they dug graves for two more.

In the basement and in the buffet

To the village of Novaya Biofabrika – a suburb of Orsk. There are more inhabitants here than in Krasnochabanskoye, and the houses are urban. However, here, as in the village, they greet passers-by, and a cow grazes under the windows of the five-story building. There are as many as three stores. But even there, only beer is on the shelves – there is no license for something stronger either.

“And for vodka, brandy – just go to another area, here you will not buy anything,” – instantly recognizing the stranger, the saleswoman reports to me. If a familiar buyer were in my place, she might have offered a stick. Somehow I can’t believe that the customer focus of local retailers is lower than that of the owners of “Udachi”.

Already in Orsk itself, they show me small grocery stores – “cellars” that sell illegal alcohol.

“If you want to buy below the price of a supermarket, go there. The bottles will be glass. And the labels are the same. But the devil only knows what is in them, ”they explain to me.

I go down to one such point in the basement of a residential building. A tiny room, a standard assortment of a stall: snacks, beer, chocolate, etc. As soon as he hears the word “vodka”, the seller immediately becomes nervous. “We comply with the law, we do not trade without a license,” there is a feeling that he is reporting to the inspector.

Opposite there was a bigger shop – I go there. “I always took vodka across the street, but today it’s a bummer,” I complained to the owner there. “I didn’t sell it today, did I? – he laughs. “We’re all afraid now.”

In general, the formats of buying drinks in Orsk have caused nostalgia for the times gone by. At least for Moscow. Alcohol is sold here until 22:00. But you can also purchase it later. And not only from under the counter in the “basements”, but also quite officially.

For example, at the supermarket of the local chain “Ring” there is a huge poster “Fresh draft drinks. Around the clock. ” The so-called “buffet” is equipped inside – the second alcoholic section, decorated as a bar. It opens after 22:00.

Paint and Smell Against Poverty

According to Rosstat, against the background of the pandemic, the number of alcohol poisoning in Russia has increased significantly. So, if in 2019 6,451 people died due to the use of low-quality drinks, then in 2020 – 10,206. The main reason for alcohol poisoning is the use of alcohol-containing liquids that are obviously not intended for drinking.

According to Vadim Drobiz, Director of the Center for Research of Federal and Regional Alcohol Markets TsIFRRA, made in 2020, the volume of surrogate products in illegal retail is over 800 liters per year.

The expert includes moonshine, pharmacy tinctures, alcohol-containing edible liquids and illegal vodka.

The reason for the popularity of samopals, according to Drobiz, lies in the price: the cheapest legal vodka costs about 240 rubles, and surrogates are sold twice as cheap.

In the Orenburg region, the proximity of the border with Kazakhstan also affects, local residents explain. Several years ago, factory-made Kazakh vodka was imported to Russia in large quantities. The excise tax in Kazakhstan on it was four times lower than the Russian one. In the Orenburg region, it was sold twice cheaper than the Russian one. But today the “Kazakh woman” herself has risen in price, and free trips to Kazakhstan have stopped due to the pandemic.

So it turns out that the residents of the same Krasnochabansky have only one saving option – the Udacha store.

According to the chairman of the National Union for the Protection of Consumer Rights Pavel Shapkin, bootleggers could simply confuse ethyl and methyl alcohol.

“Methyl alcohol is almost identical in taste, color and smell and produces the same state of intoxication. And the first symptoms of poisoning appear after four to six, and sometimes even eight hours, ”he said in an interview with RT.

The expert noted that methyl alcohol is similar to ethyl alcohol, and it is very easy to confuse them.

“We produce much more methanol than ethyl alcohol … Despite the fact that it is limited for sale, it enters the market. In general, the cost of methanol is about 18 rubles per liter. It is clear that bootleggers consider how much they can make such pseudo-vodka out of this. It turns out very cheap … These products are poorly controlled, ”the specialist explained.

At the same time, even after the mass poisoning by hawthorn in the Irkutsk region in 2016, when a total of 123 people suffered from methanol, 76 of them died, Rosspirtprom made suggestions: in order not to confuse alcohols, give methanol a color or an unpleasant specific smell during production … However, then things did not go further than conversations.

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