Duma deputies, actors and sportsmen ask Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov to “avert another attack on an important part of the people’s life,” that is, beer. The open letter to the premier is signed by the Masriinski Theatre director Valeri Gergiyev, viola-player Yuri Bashmet, writer Daniil Granin, pop stars Alla Pugacheva, Mikhail Boyarski, Oleg Gazmanov, MPs Viktor Pokhmelkin and Petr Shelishch (who also heads Russia’s Customers’ Union), Russia’s combined team hockey coach Boris Mikhailov and others. In their words, the “sense of responsibility and fairness prompted them to appeal to the prime minister. “A war has virtually been declared on the people’s favourite drink which is forced to be treated on a par with vodka,” the letter says. The letter’s authors criticize Genadi Onishchenko, Russia’s chief sanitary inspector, who, in their view, “forms a negative attitude towards beer and its manufacturers,” RIA Novosti reports. The letter recalls Mikhail Gorbachev’s anti-alcohol drive contending it was no good for the people – “prohibitive measures have never resulted in anything good, but made things even worse.” In the meantime, the letter points out, “beer can and already play a positive part in lowering the consumption of strong alcoholic beverages.” Because beer, in the first place, is a “communication, good spirits, a jolly good company,” the letter stresses.
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