First deputy prime minister meets with opposition activists campaigning against alcohol abuse

Uladzimir SyamashkaFirst Deputy Prime Minister Uladzimir Syamashka has met with activists of Belarusian Christian Democracy (BCD) campaigning against alcohol abuse.

The government has demonstrated its readiness to take the public’s proposals against “alcoholization” into account, said the BCD press office.

During the meeting, the campaigners and Mr. Syamashka discussed priority steps to stop the “alcoholization” of the Belarusian population, the press office said.

BCD activists compared the regulations governing the advertising and sale of alcohol in different countries and concluded that Belarus was among the worst in Europe, the press office said.

The campaigners suggests allowing retail outlets other than liquor stores to sell spirits only through special departments, banning the advertising of alcohol, and providing assistance to charity organizations that help alcohol addicts.

BCD activist Volha Kavalkova, who coordinates the campaign, noted that the party was proposing measures that were already in place “even in Russia.” “These proposals can be implemented very quickly, but everything depends on the authorities’ wishes and will,” she said. “At present we see the authorities’ promise to fight alcoholization, but the promise should be followed by real actions.”

The campaigners gave Mr. Syamashka a petition containing several thousand signatures collected all over Belarus.

Belarus ranks first in the world in terms of per capita alcohol consumption in a report released by the World Health Organization on May 12.

Belarus tops the list with an annual per capita consumption of 17.5 liters of alcohol.

According to the report, Belarus` men annually consume 27.5 liters of alcohol on the average, while women`s per capita consumption is 9.1 liters. //BelaPAN