Duma worries: dozens of deaths from alcohol poisoning

Russian State Duma Deputies are calling for an inquiry into the wave of alcohol poisoning in Russia during recent weeks that's led to dozens of deaths and hundreds in hospital. Some of them are calling on the Government and Interior Ministry to be involve

Duma speaker Boris Gryzlov has suggested creating a monopoly to control alcohol sales and production. Deputies also want to set up an inter-departmental commission to study alcohol-related problems in Russia. Some, including Russia's health Minister, say the poisoning is deliberate – to pressure the government into getting rid of legislation already adopted to deal with counterfeit alcohol. Meanwhile, new cases of poisoning have been cropping up in neighboring Baltic states, while the number of deaths in Russia continues to rise. Wine, vodka, and cognacs are replaced with window cleaning liquid and home made concoctions, leading to severe poisoning. So far 14 regions have been found to be affected by the counterfeit alcohol trend. Thousands of people are in hospital, the death toll rises daily. And now it's not just Russia that's been hit – neighboring Latvia reports 60 people diagnosed with alcohol poisoning and officials there say there's evidence that the illicit alcohol was imported from Russia. In Russia, measures are already being taken to battle with the problem. Some regions are encouraging people not to drink – and to hand in alcohol that may be tainted in return for compensation. Criminal investigations have been launched in the Saratov and Belgorod regions, among others.

Several arrests have been made, those detained are suspected of distilling and selling bootleg alcohol. And local authorities are demanding changes in legislation to help deal with the problem.