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Russia Has Some Eye-Popping Issues

The budding bromance between Dmitry Medvedev and Hugo Chavez was not enough to get the Russian president fired up about the state of the economy. In fact, Medvedev sounded like he needed a drink or two to ease the pain.

"An ineffective economy, a semi-Soviet social sphere, a weak democracy, negative demographic trends and an unstable Caucasus. These are very big problems even for a state like Russia," Medvedev wrote in the piece, which ran in several leading newspapers and on the Kremlin Web site....Medvedev condemned "centuries of debilitating corruption" and widespread paternalistic attitudes in Russia that all problems should be the responsibility of the state.

But should he want to have that drink and contemplate Russian attitudes towards the state solving everyone's problems, he may run into a problem there. It turns out the state, Medvedev specifically, has identified a "colossal" problem in Russia: drinking. In response to the average annual per capital alcohol intake of 5 gallons of pure ethanol, the president has proposed banning containers larger than 11 ounces of low alcohol beverages. But before panic grips the nation, an executive director of the Russian Beer Producers Union set the record straight about what constitutes low.

The restriction shouldn't affect beer, given a new definition of low alcohol beverages in the Kremlin document today, as those with less than 7 percent added ethanol, such as some canned cocktails, (executive director of the Russian Beer Producers Union Vyacheslav) Mamontov said.