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Opinion

Vodka in their minds

READER'S VIEWS - The Freeman

“They have vodka in their minds,” says an Ukrainian woman about the Russians who are raiding her country. Indeed in the first days of Putin’s special military operation we saw videos of soldiers breaking into supermarkets and private houses looting alcoholic liquors. In autumn during the partial mobilization we saw soldiers drinking in a bus going to the front.

It is known that cigarettes and alcohol is part of the daily apportionment of frontline soldiers in all armies in order to calm the nerves and give them courage to leave the trenches and run an assault. But the scourge in Russian armies in all history has been an excessive consumption of alcohol.

The French general Jean-Paul Perruche relates an experience he witnessed in 1991 during a one week’s visit on the invitation of soviet high-ranking parachutist officers: “I discovered that – what I had read before in books was true – the colonels and the generals after the seventh or eighth toast of vodka in beer glasses fell from their chairs and had to be evacuated.”

Thierry Wolton, specialist for communist societies had an even worse adventure in Moscow just two years after the breakdown of the Soviet Union. He was invited to a party of three Russian doctors and their wives. “Before meal, we drank beer mixed with whisky, the first glass went gloo gloo gloo. (After that politeness drink I remained dry excusing myself.) The second glass had more whisky than beer and the third was almost whisky straight. And boom boom boom they fell on the floor. I was alone with three women. It was surrealistic.”

Alcoholism creates violence. Cases of road rage are a common feature in Russia. A human rights organization reports that on a yearly average 14,000 women are killed by their husbands, that is 38 murders per day. Wife battering is accepted even by the family of the victim of such domestic violence. Russia is the country with the third-highest divorce rate after Maldives and Guam.

Notorious in the Russian army is the brutal hazing of conscripts by superiors. Estimates vary between 4000 to 6000 dead soldiers each year due to ‘dedovshchina’. That explains the flagrant lack of platoon leaders. After their obligatory service Russians are fed-up with the army. Only the few sadistic soldiers sign a contract for a career as officer. Consequently the conscripts that are sent as cannon fodder against Ukrainian snipers have no professionally trained leader.

General Perruche holds: “I think that alcohol is a form of therapy for enduring life in a permanently violent environment at work, home and in the army. In order to offset frustration one drinks more and the more one drinks the more one becomes violent. It is a vicious circle.”

The ungrateful monotonous landscapes and the long cold winters make people morose and depressed so that they seek comfort from drugs.

Putin’s policy of martialization is brutalizing the society. Young kids are educated in a warlike spirit. Adolescents are permanently influenced by films and videos that glorify warring heroes. Propaganda teaches Russian history seen through rose-colored spectacles and denigrates anything West. Russia is the paradise that the barbaric enemy wants to destroy. Hostility is inculcated against the enemy.

‘Milbloggers’ (military bloggers) communicated their outright joy over the successful shelling of an apartment block in Uman killing 26 Ukrainian citizens. One blogger bragged that he enjoyed watching 10 times the video showing the gruesome beheading of a Ukrainian prisoner of war.

Alcoholism kills. Rarely does a male pass age 53 due mainly to the vice. Population is shrinking rapidly. Fertility rate is far below reproduction level. Due to high rates of alcoholism, economic hardship and frequent wars women are unwilling to give Putin sons. Putin who owns a distillery producing the branded Putinka vodka started a campaign against alcoholism in order to stop population loss. It is doomed to fail because exorbitant drinking is not only in the Russian minds but also in their genes.

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