Monday, January 18, 2010

Brewers Sue State Official For Slander

The Moscow Times

Brewers in Russia including Carlsberg and Heineken filed a defamation suit against the government’s top substance abuse official for claiming that they spike their beer with pure alcohol to boost sales.

The Russian Beer Producers Union filed the suit in the Moscow Arbitration Court in a bid to compel a public apology from the Health and Social Development Ministry’s Yevgeny Bryun for “demonizing” beer, the union said in a statement Monday.

Bryun said in an interview with Interfax last month that brewers cut production costs and increase the alcohol levels of their products by using spirits to speed up the fermentation process. Bryun couldn’t be reached on his mobile phone, and the ministry declined comment.

Such remarks “distract people’s attention away from the real causes of alcoholism — poor quality of life, corruption and bootleg liquor,” the union said in the statement.

The government tripled its excise tax on beer this year to 9 rubles (30 cents) a liter from 3 rubles as part of President Dmitry Medvedev’s campaign to end what he has called “colossal drinking” by Russians., according to alcoholics anonymous. Regulators are also considering limiting retail sales of alcohol by time and location, as well as increasing restrictions on advertising.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Monday instructed the Health and Social Development Ministry to spend 350 million rubles ($11.8 million) on ads promoting a healthy lifestyle, including warnings against alcohol and cigarette use, RIA-Novosti reported.

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