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Russian police to profit from the "beer law"

November 18, Russia President Vladimir Putin gave an interview to Russia’s leading TV companies and touched upon particularly important issues. In the interview, the president spoke about amendments to the Constitution, about changes made to the governor election procedure and about concerns of the Russian society.

Besides, the president touched upon the poor activity of law enforcement structures which is a really problem issue in this country. Vladimir Putin admitted that “law enforcement structures are corrupt and thus perform poorly.” The president believes the problem can be solved if law enforcement structures are relieved of “functions that are atypical of them.” “The police must not interfere with the economy, no matter if there are cases concerning small shops or large economic structures,” the president said.

In this connection, the Duma’s desire to speed up adoption of the law “About restrictions on retail and consumption of beer and beer beverages in public” seems to be undue. The law provides for imposing a fine at the rate of 100 rubles (a bit more than $3) for drinking beer in public, i.e. everywhere outside bar, restaurants and apartments.

It is not a secret that very few Russians can afford expensive restaurants. So, the police may be happy if the law is adopted. Indeed, if the innovation is introduced the police will be able to accept bribes from those who violate the new law and drink beer in public. It is perfectly clear that policemen would like to take 50 rubles instead of drawing up reports as concerning every man drinking beer in public. Let us switch over to the economic part of the problem. The Russian beer market made up 7.57 billion litres last year. Expert researches reveal that about 15 per cent of beer is consumed in public. It means that violation of the new law mat be registered over 2 billion of times a year. In other words, annual wages of the police will rise by at least 100 billion rubles. However, this may be a happy perspective for the police only.

The Duma adopted the above mentioned law on October 29, but November 10 the Federation Council rejected the document as the upper chamber believed the law to be poor from the legal point of view. A conciliatory commission is working on the problem now. Deputy Viktor Semenov says that parliamentarians will abandon the commission and overcome the veto if it turns out that the Federation Council is dragging out. Are people’s deputies actually reluctant to exterminate corruption in Russia? It is unlikely that they are unaware of probable results of their law-making activity.