Russia once banned vodka

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by Staff
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There’s a Russian proverb that speaks to the country’s love affair with a certain spirit: “Vodka is our enemy, so we’ll utterly consume it.” Russia and vodka are almost synonymous with each other, for better or, sometimes, worse. The problems associated with overconsumption have been known to Russia’s leaders for a long time — so long, in fact, that Tsar Nicholas II announced his intention to ban the liquor on September 28, 1914, in a telegram that read simply, “I have already decided to abolish forever the government sale of vodka in Russia.” He did so at considerable financial risk, as the government’s centuries-old vodka monopoly was responsible for a third of its revenue, but he felt it was important that the treasury was no longer “dependent on the ruination of the spiritual and economic forces of the majority of My faithful subjects.”

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