June 17, 2010 / 3:25 PM / in 7 years

Russia calls time on vodka tipplers at forum

ST PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) - Russia on Thursday called time on vodka drinkers at its top economic conference, outlawing the national tipple from normally well lubricated stands at the St Petersburg Economic Forum.

<p>Bottles of vodka move along a conveyor belt at The Mazovian Distillery Polmos S.A. in Jozefow, near Warsaw June 21, 2007. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel</p>

The ban comes as President Dmitry Medvedev, the keynote speaker, spearheads a campaign against alcohol abuse which includes higher taxes and a minimum price on vodka, and may yet lead to limited sales hours.

“On the territory (of the forum), only beverages no stronger than wine can be drunk,” said Stanislav Voskresensky, a deputy economy minister.

Financial information company Bloomberg covered up a Russian Standard vodka logo on its stand with white paint hours before the forum opened, while a chess lounge favored by government officials moved screens in front of displays of cognac.

Alcohol abuse is a major problem in Russia where, according to Medvedev, the average Russian drinks 18 liters (38 pints) of pure alcohol each year. Successive anti-alcohol campaigns by Soviet leaders all failed to solve the problem.

Writing by Toni Vorobyova, editing by Paul Casciato

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