Shot from the film "The Diamond Arm"
In this article we will continue our story about the alcoholic traditions of our country and talk about the problems associated with the use of alcoholic beverages in the USSR.
It all started with complete anarchy. Weak and incompetent politicians who came to power after the February Revolution quickly lost control not only over the outskirts of the vast country, but also over the population of Petrograd and the surrounding regions. It was very difficult to put things in order in such a situation, and therefore the unwillingness of part of the leadership of the Bolshevik Party to take power into their own hands is understandable.
One of the first high-profile actions of the new government was the operation to destroy the richest collection of alcoholic beverages stored in the cellars of the Winter Palace, carried out in November 1917. Hundreds of barrels of vintage wines, thousands of bottles of champagne and many large tanks filled with alcohol literally fell on the Bolsheviks' heads. Rumors about these riches spread throughout the capital, and now crowds of marginalized people regularly organized "raids" on the Winter Palace. The soldiers' guards themselves took an active part in the "tasting". One of the Petrograd newspapers described one of these raids as follows:
“The destruction of the wine cellar of the Winter Palace, which began on the night of November 24, continued all day ... The newly arrived guards also got drunk. By evening, there were many bodies around the cellar without senses. Shooting went on all night. They shot mostly in the air, but there were many casualties. "
Finally, a detachment of Kronstadt sailors was ordered to destroy the stocks of alcohol. The bottoms of the barrels were knocked out, the bottles smashed on the floor. L. Trotsky recalled in his book "My Life":
“Wine flowed down the ditches into the Neva, soaking the snow. The drinkers lapped straight from the ditches. "
Other eyewitnesses reported that after an hour of such work, the "stupefied" from the fumes had to literally crawl out to catch their breath. The townsfolk greeted them with indignant shouts: “They drink themselves, but they won't give us!»
On December 19, 1917, the Council of People's Commissars adopted a resolution to extend the "Prohibition". The manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages was punishable by imprisonment for 5 years with confiscation of property. For drinking alcoholic beverages in a public place, they could be imprisoned for a year.
But the Provisional Siberian Government on July 10, 1918 partially abolished the "dry law" in the territory under its control. Alcoholic drinks here began to be sold on ration cards, and buyers had to bring empty bottles in exchange for corked ones. And on the vast territory from Perm to Vladivostok then queues for vodka appeared, which were popularly called "wine tails". The speculation in vodka also began, which has now received the status of "hard currency". The price for it from the hands sometimes increased several times.
Factory vodka was also in demand in the villages, whose residents, in fact, drove moonshine en masse (it cost 6 times cheaper). But "state goods" began to be considered status and prestigious. During the celebrations, they tried to put at least one or two vodka bottles on the table along with a bucket or can of moonshine, which were called "scoundrels".
Alcohol consumption in the USSR in the pre-war years
In January 1920, the Council of People's Commissars decided to allow the sale of wine with a strength of up to 12 degrees. Then the allowed wine strength was increased to 14, and then to 20 degrees. On February 3, 1922, it was allowed to sell beer. But they continued to struggle with the consumption of spirits. The most stringent measures were taken against moonshiners: in the first half of 1923, 75 moonshine stills were confiscated, and 296 criminal cases were initiated. However, this did not solve the problem. In the same 295, S. Yesenin wrote:
“Ah, today it’s so much fun for the Russians,
Moonshine alcohol river.
Accordion player with a sunken nose
Cheka is also singing to them about the Volga ... "
Moonshine alcohol river.
Accordion player with a sunken nose
Cheka is also singing to them about the Volga ... "
In 1923, at the June plenum of the Central Committee, on the initiative of Stalin, the question of abolishing the "dry law" and introducing a state monopoly on the sale of vodka was raised. The enemy of the secretary general here was also Trotsky, who called the legalization of vodka “one of the most unworthy moments in stories party».
Stalin's proposal was nevertheless accepted, and from January 1, 1924, vodka was again sold in the country, the strength of which was reduced to 30 degrees. The people called it "rykovka". A half-liter bottle worth 1 ruble received the proud name “party member”, bottles with a capacity of 0,25 and 0,1 liters were called “Komsomol member” and “pioneer”, respectively.
But the fight against drunkenness was not stopped, and it was carried out very seriously - at the state level. In 1927, the first narcological hospitals were opened. Since 1928, the journal "Sobriety and Culture" began to be published.
In 1931, the first sobering-up station was opened in Leningrad. Subsequently, sobering-up centers in the USSR were opened at the rate of one institution for 150-200 thousand inhabitants. The only exception was Armenia, where there was not a single sobering-up station.
Initially, these institutions belonged to the system of the People's Commissariat of Health, but on March 4, 1940, they were transferred to the subordination of the People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs. Remember Vysotsky's famous song?
“It is not a rooster who will wake up in the morning by crowing, -
The sergeant will rise, that is, as people! "
The sergeant will rise, that is, as people! "
And this is a shot from the movie "And in the morning they woke up", which takes place in a sobering-up center:
It was filmed in 2003 based on the story of the same name and three stories by V. Shukshin.
Continuation of the story about sobering-up centers - in the next article. In the meantime, let's go back - in the 30s of the twentieth century.
In 1935, the first medical and labor dispensary (and a female one) was opened in Moscow, but the system of these institutions received further development only in 1967. The requirement to combat drunkenness was included in the charter of the Komsomol adopted by the X Congress (1936). Great importance was attached to anti-alcohol propaganda. Even V. Mayakovsky did not hesitate to write captions to such propaganda posters:
This is no longer a poster, but a Soviet popular print, artist - Pukhovskaya I.O., author of poetry - V. Mayakovsky
But in the late 1930s, anti-alcohol rhetoric was somewhat softened. Mikoyan's words that before the revolution people
“They drank precisely in order to get drunk and forget their unhappy life ... Now life has become more fun. You can't get drunk out of a good life. It became more fun to live, which means you can have a drink. " (1936)
And since 1937, the famous "Soviet Champagne" began to be produced in the USSR, the use of which the same Mikoyan called "a sign of material well-being».
"People's Commissariat one hundred grams"
During the Great Patriotic War, it was decided to give the front-line soldiers a portion of vodka or fortified wine (on the Transcaucasian front). This was supposed to help the soldiers deal with constant stress and increase their morale. From May 15, 1942, soldiers of units that had success in hostilities received 200 grams of vodka each, the rest - 100 grams and only on holidays. From November 12, 1942, the norms decreased: soldiers of units conducting direct hostilities or reconnaissance, artillerymen providing fire support for the infantry, crews of combat aircraft on completing a combat mission received 100 grams of vodka. All others are only 50 grams.
It should be said that this method of reward was not original. The same Napoleon wrote:
"Wine and vodka are gunpowder that the soldiers throw at the enemy."
But the daily, for many months and even years, the use of vodka by millions of people, of course, had an impact on the growth of alcoholism in the USSR.
Nevertheless, in the early post-war years, it was not accepted to get drunk, especially in public places. The testimony of V. Tikhonenko, a well-known Leningrad blacksmith, who recalled that time, is curious:
“Everyone played the role of decent people ... The bandits did not go to the restaurant, decent people went to the restaurant ... I don’t remember the ladies who behaved vulgarly in the restaurant, and in general people did not behave vulgarly. This is a good feature of the Stalinist era - people behaved with restraint. "
Alcohol consumption in the USSR in the post-war years
After Stalin's death, the situation began to change for the worse. Khrushchev himself loved to drink, and did not consider alcohol abuse as a great sin. It is curious that Malenkov and Molotov, who opposed Khrushchev in 1957, accused him, among other things, of addiction to alcohol and swearing during public speeches (which speaks well of the mental abilities and cultural level of this leader of the Soviet state). It was during Khrushchev's time that the well-known Marxist postulate “Being determines consciousness”: “Drinking determines consciousness” was derisively altered in near-intellectual circles.
By the way, look what products Russian collective farmers could put on the wedding table at that time (photo 1956):
And this is the Kremlin table at the banquet dedicated to the return of German Titov to earth, on August 9, 1961:
P. Weil and A. Genis called one of the characteristic features of the so-called "Thaw"
"General friendly drinking and the art of drunken dialogue."
Quite quickly, domestic drunkenness acquired such a scale that in 1958 a government decree was issued on strengthening the fight against drunkenness and putting things in order in the alcohol trade. In particular, it was prohibited to trade in bottled alcohol. It was then that the Soviet tradition of "thinking for three" arose: the "suffering" often did not have enough money for a whole bottle, they had to pool their "capital". There were even special gestures with which loners looking for a company invited potential drinking companions. For example, looking inquiringly at a person approaching the store, they brought a bent finger to their throat. Or they hid their thumb and forefinger over the side of a coat or jacket. This conventional gesture can be seen in Leonid Gaidai's comedy "Prisoner of the Caucasus". With his help, Shurik establishes a connection with two patients of the narcological clinic - the doctor clearly says in the frame: “Alcoholics - our profile":
Shurik, with a conventional sign, invites patients of the narcological clinic to "figure it out for three"
The intelligentsia had their own reasons for "suffering." According to the recollections of the "sixties", many admirers of Hemingway then dreamed of the opportunity to go to the bar and order a glass of cognac, a glass of Calvados or something like that. Their dream came true already in 1963, when the bottling of alcohol was again allowed due to losses incurred by the budget. The data of a sociological survey in 1963 showed that at that time 1,8% of income was spent on cultural needs in Leningrad families, and 4,2% on alcohol.
Leonid Brezhnev, who replaced Khrushchev, did not abuse alcohol: he usually drank no more than 75 grams of vodka or brandy (then, under the guise of alcoholic beverages, he was served strained strong tea or mineral water). But the secretary general was also condescending to the "drinkers". At the official Kremlin banquets, funny situations sometimes happened when the invited leaders of production and shock workers of agricultural labor, seeing free and good alcohol on the tables, did not count their strength - they drank too much. They were put to “rest” in a specially arranged “dark room” and then no sanctions were applied.
Reception at the Kremlin Palace of Congresses, November 7, 1970
Campaign work continued. In the illustrations below, you can see a Soviet anti-alcohol poster and cartoon:
The so-called "comrades' courts" were actively working, most of the cases of which were just analyzes of all kinds of household "immorality", often associated with excessive alcohol consumption (but cases of violations of labor discipline, production of defective products, petty theft, and so on were also considered).
A comradely court in a vocational school, 1963:
A meeting of a friendly court at the Gorky Automobile Plant. Photo by R. Alfimov, 1973:
And in this photo we see a meeting of a comrades' court in Uzbekistan:
However, such courts often punished not only the offender, but also his family, as stated in the famous song of V. Vysotsky:
“The premium is covered in the quarter!
Who wrote me a complaint service?
Not you?! When I read them! "
Who wrote me a complaint service?
Not you?! When I read them! "
But even more terrible were the analyzes of "antisocial behavior" at party meetings - they were really afraid of "working through" them, and this was a serious deterrent.
It was under Brezhnev - in 1967, that the level of alcohol consumption per capita in the USSR reached the level of 1913. In the future, consumption only grew. If back in 1960 in the USSR they drank 3,9 liters per person per year, then in 1970 it was already 6,7 liters. But these were still flowers, we saw berries in the "dashing 90s": about 15 liters per person in 1995 and 18 liters in 1998.
But let's not get ahead.
On April 8, 1967, a decree was issued “On compulsory treatment and labor re-education of hard-core drunkards (alcoholics)”. This is how a system of medical and labor dispensaries appeared, to which alcoholics were sent by court order for a period of 6 months to two years. In Russia, this decree was annulled by Yeltsin (terminated on July 1, 1994). But it seems to be still operating on the territory of Belarus, Turkmenistan and the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic.
And in 1975, an independent narcological service was created in the USSR. At the same time, in comparison with modern times, vodka in the Soviet Union was quite an expensive product. The cheapest "half liter" was sold for 2 rubles 87 kopecks. It was "Moscow special" vodka, made according to the pre-revolutionary recipe of 1894. After 1981, its cost was almost equal to that of other varieties of vodka. Another cheap vodka, which for some reason was popularly called "Crankshaft", cost 3 rubles 62 kopecks. She disappeared from the market after 1981. "Russkaya", "Stolichnaya", "Extra" until 1981 cost 4 rubles 12 kopecks. The most expensive was "Pshenichnaya" - 5 rubles 25 kopecks. "Sibirskaya" was a vodka of the middle price category (4 rubles 42 k.), Its peculiarity was a strength of 45 degrees. After 1981, a bottle of the cheapest vodka cost 5 rubles 30 kopecks.
Vodka tour: "master class" from the finns
The first Finnish tourists arrived in the USSR in 1958 by buses Helsinki - Leningrad - Moscow. In total, 5 thousand Finns have visited the USSR this year. They liked these trips very much, and the number of tourists from this country grew every year. They also began to arrive by train, by plane, and in the 70s-80s, the USSR was visited by up to half a million Finnish tourists a year. The most budgetary for them were trips to Vyborg.
The guests from Finland could not boast of special wealth. In neighboring Sweden, for example, the Finns were then traditionally treated as “poor relatives from the village”. But in the USSR, they suddenly felt themselves rich. At the same time, a certain cultural dissonance was observed. The majestic and beautiful imperial cities of Leningrad and Moscow made a huge impression on the Finns. Even their capital, Helsinki, looked hopelessly provincial in comparison. But at the same time, in the USSR, the Finns could afford a lot, especially those who guessed to take several pairs of jeans and tights with them. Very soon they found out that alcohol in the Soviet Union costs (by their standards) mere pennies, and ladies of easy virtue who are ready to share their leisure time with them are cheap, but beautiful. And tourists from this country began to focus not on sightseeing of numerous sights, but on a reckless "breakaway" in Soviet cities, striking even local drunkards with their behavior. In Leningrad, the Finns were then called "four-legged friends."
The Finnish tourist, who did not calculate his strength, fell asleep in the Moscow metro, a relatively sober girlfriend settled on his legs. Photos by Ismo Bjorn
The daily routine of Finnish tourists was often as follows: in the morning they disembarked at one of the drinking establishments, and in the evening the bus drivers picked them up (often literally) at familiar addresses in the immediate vicinity. At first, they identified “theirs” by their shoes. And that is why one of the drivers once took the "peacefully resting" Russian drunkard, to whom the Finn who had been drinking with him presented his boots. Farmers and prostitutes circled around the drunken Finns, however, as a rule, they did not rob and rob them: the “profit” was already high enough, and criminal incidents with foreign tourists in the USSR were investigated very thoroughly. The crime went mainly to "stray prostitutes", whom "regular" hotel prostitutes themselves often handed over to the police. Moreover, many of them were forced, as they said at the time, "to work for an office."
After the Baltic countries joined the European Union, Finnish alcohol tourism in Vyborg and St. Petersburg has lost its relevance. Alcohol in Riga or Tallinn is still cheaper than in Finland, and you do not need to get a visa.
"Kindness of the Communist Andropov"
Yu. V. Andropov, who headed the USSR and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union after the death of Brezhnev, had to follow a strict diet since the 1970s, and practically did not drink alcohol. Nevertheless, despite the dubious reputation of a teetotaler in our country, the campaign for the struggle for labor discipline and the slogan about “inadmissibility of parasitizing on the humanism of the socialist system”, Andropov became, perhaps, the most popular leader of the post-war USSR. At this time, many people began to be annoyed by the drunkenness of others (neighbors, relatives, colleagues) and sloppiness at work. A public demand for changes in society was formed, which was then so ineptly used by M. Gorbachev. And Andropov's attempt to "restore order in the country" was received quite favorably. People over 50 years old probably remember how the drunken disappeared from the streets of cities, and how the police officers took away from the wine and vodka shops those customers who were supposed to be at the workplace at that time. Drunk, instead of showing their "prowess", hid from passers-by.
Under the new secretary general, a new variety of vodka appeared, which at that time became the cheapest - 4 rubles 70 kopecks. People called her "Andropovka". And the word “vodka” was deciphered by the witches as follows: “Here He is What Kind - Andropov” (another version - “Here She is the Kindness of the Communist Andropov”). A legend appeared, according to which the new secretary general ordered that for five rubles a person could buy not only a bottle of vodka, but at least processed cheese for a snack.
The label of the famous processed cheese "Druzhba"
The quick death of this Secretary General prevented him from realizing his plans. And we can only guess in which direction the USSR would have moved its methods of government. But on the other hand, we know that it was Andropov who began to promote the "mineral secretary" M. Gorbachev, and this mistake of his became fatal for our country.
Experiments by Professor Brechman
It was in the 80s that Professor I.I.Brekhman, one of the founders of the theory of adaptogens, conducted his experiments in the USSR. It was through his efforts that preparations based on ginseng and eleutherococcus appeared in Soviet pharmacies.
First, a 35-degree bitter tincture on the roots of Eleutherococcus prickly was released, named after the bay in Vladivostok - "Golden Horn". A half-liter bottle cost 6 rubles. Experiments on rats have shown impressive results - a decrease in mortality from poisoning, a decrease in the severity of hangover, and even a decrease in alcohol dependence. However, in humans, the results were much more modest, and they were reluctant to drink this tincture. The next experiment was much better prepared: it was decided to test the new alcoholic drink on residents of one of the districts of the Magadan region. At the same time, the old stocks of alcohol were removed from there in advance. Brechman and his collaborators anticipated the work of Western scholars on the study of the so-called "French paradox". Like the citizens of Mediterranean countries, the French consume a large amount of grape wine, but at the same time - a large amount of meat and fatty foods. Nevertheless, there are few drunkards and alcoholics among them, and the prevalence of cardiovascular diseases in France is lower than the European average. A similar situation was noted in Soviet Georgia. Brekhman and his colleagues made a completely logical and correct assumption that it is not the quantity, but the quality of the alcohol consumed, namely, the traditional grape wines widespread in this republic. It has now been proven that the main active ingredient in grape wines is polyphenols, which reduce the rate of alcohol oxidation, while accelerating the oxidation of acetaldehyde. In addition, they have an adaptogenic effect, increasing stamina during physical work and reducing sensitivity to high and low temperatures. Soviet researchers called the resulting extract of polyphenols "caprim" (from the regions of Kakheti and Primorye, where Brekhman began working with adaptogens). At the same time, it turned out that the maximum concentration of the required substance is determined in the waste of wine production - grape skins and "ridges" (bunches of grapes without berries). The production of a new vodka called "Golden Fleece" was promptly launched in Georgia. The raw materials for the production were pears (mainly volunteers), and the extract of grape "combs" was added to the alcohol solution.
"Strong drink" "Golden Fleece"
According to legend, the chairman of the State Planning Committee N. Baibakov and the future chairman of the Council of Ministers N. Ryzhkov helped to achieve industrial production of the Golden Fleece, who personally tested the new drink and were satisfied with the absence of unpleasant consequences the next morning. The taste of the new drink was unusual: to some it resembled "Pertsovka", but at the same time it tasted like coffee. In the Severo-Evensky district of the Magadan region, where the "Golden Fleece" was sold, for some reason it was called "wool". The new drink was brought there in the summer of 1984. The location was not chosen by chance. Firstly, this isolated area with a small population was ideal for observation, which was organized as part of a general medical examination. Secondly, alcohol has an extremely destructive effect on the Evenki organism, and the unpleasant consequences from its use are much more serious than those of Russians and other Europeans.
The preliminary results of the experiment were very interesting. It turned out that the Evenks who used the Golden Fleece were drunk according to the “Russian type”. The number of poisoning decreased, the hangover was easier. But this effect turned out to be dose-dependent, decreased in proportion to the amount drunk and, as a rule, disappeared after drinking more than one bottle.
There was also an increase in the number of deposits in savings banks and the amount of money in deposit accounts. However, the experiment, designed for 2 years, was terminated early (after 10 months). It is precisely because of its short duration that it is still impossible to draw unambiguous scientific conclusions. It is argued that an unfortunate coincidence of circumstances was the cause of the failure of the experiment. Professor of the Department of Social Hygiene and Health Organization of the II Pirogov MMI N. Ya. Kopyt, who agreed to take a briefcase with materials to the Kremlin, died in the car from myocardial infarction. As a result, the documents accidentally ended up in the possession of one of the ideologists of Gorbachev's "Prohibition" - Yegor Ligachev. He considered the experiment contrary to the party's policy of sobering up citizens.
The copies of the “Golden Fleece” drink that remained in the North Evenk region suddenly became very popular as Kolyma souvenirs, and, according to eyewitnesses, were sold “by pull”.
Around this time, by the way, another curious feature of the action of alcohol became clear. A study was conducted that showed that the human body categorically does not like anything chemically pure. And therefore, vitamins in tablets and trace elements in dietary supplements work much worse than the same compounds from natural products. And alcohol, ideally purified and diluted with water, in terms of its negative effect on the body, turned out to be much more harmful than alcohol produced according to old recipes - with some kind of natural impurities.
M. Gorbachev's anti-alcohol campaign
One of the landmark decisions of the new Secretary General was the appearance, on his initiative, of the famous Resolution of the Central Committee of the CPSU "On measures to overcome drunkenness and alcoholism" (May 7, 1985). The plan was sound enough, but its implementation turned out to be simply nightmarish. The contracts for the supply of cognac from Bulgaria and dry wine from Algeria were terminated (and significant penalties had to be paid). Distilleries sharply reduced the production of spirits (albeit, while increasing the production of scarce mayonnaise). Vineyards were cut down in the southern regions of the country. A shortage of alcoholic beverages was artificially created, which again, as at the beginning of the twentieth century, led to a sharp increase in home brewing. One of the consequences was the disappearance of sugar and yeast from stores. The use of various surrogates has also increased dramatically. Despite the increase in the price of vodka (a half-liter bottle of the cheapest in 1986 cost 9 rubles 10 kopecks), the budget of the USSR also suffered huge losses - up to 49 billion Soviet rubles.
As in the first period of the "Prohibition" of 1914, positive trends were noted: the number of divorces and injuries at work decreased, the number of petty domestic and street crimes decreased, and the birth rate increased. In 1987, alcohol consumption dropped to 4,9 liters per capita. But this effect was short-lived.
For the sake of fairness, it should be said that too obvious overlaps of the anti-alcohol campaign did not last very long. After Gorbachev's photograph with a Martini glass in his hands was leaked to the press in October 1985 during Gorbachev's visit to Paris, many Soviet officials took it as a hidden signal to curtail the anti-alcohol campaign. Moreover, Gorbachev himself, commenting on this photo, suddenly said in an interview that Martini is a grape wine with a unique bouquet and taste, which he recommends to all party comrades. But by this time in the USSR, an exuberant demand for alcohol had already formed, and the system of trade in alcoholic beverages was unbalanced. The whole country lined up in humiliating queues for vouchers for alcohol and shops selling vodka. As you can imagine, people didn’t feel better about Gorbachev after that.
In the next article we will talk about the state of affairs with alcohol consumption in Russia after the collapse of the USSR.