Temperance Wednesdays: St. Pete lawmaker proposes alcohol-free day

© Igor Russak
A member of St. Petersburg’s city legislature has proposed banning alcohol sales in the city on Wednesdays, claiming that the move would boost productivity, benefit health and improve the spiritual life of residents of the city.

The bill, prepared by Andrey Anokhin, of the center-left party Fair Russia, introduces amendments to the city law on trade in alcoholic drinks and products, and would establish a “temperance day” every Wednesday. The same bill also bans alcohol sales at night, from 10 p.m. till 11 a.m. every day.

Passing such a law would contribute to fulfilling such national goals as lowering alcohol consumption, a boost in public morals and a drop in the crime rate, the author of the draft wrote in an explanatory note.

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In press comments, Anokhin noted that he had two reasons for choosing Wednesday as a day to ban alcohol sales. First was the fact that Wednesday falls on the middle of the working week and concentration was very important on this very day (he did not elaborate on the situation) and second was that Wednesday is a day of fasting in the Russian Orthodox Church throughout the year. Anokhin also called upon politicians in other Russian regions to follow his example and pass similar laws.

Currently, Russia has a federal law that bans the sales of alcoholic drinks from 11 p.m. till 8 a.m. local time, with the exception of drinks served in cafes and restaurants. Additional restrictions can be imposed by regional authorities, for example the predominantly Muslim republic of Dagestan has completely banned the sale of alcohol during the holy month of Ramadan.

Last year, federal lawmakers took steps to outlaw low alcohol energy drinks, but this bill has not been passed yet. Also, this summer the State Duma rejected a suggestion to introduce fines for pedestrians who refuse to undergo medical sobriety tests, but will continue to work on the bill that punishes those who refuse to allow themselves to be checked for illegal drug use.

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Anokhin is known as the author of a bill that would amend federal laws and the Constitution to make labor not only the right of every Russian citizen, but also an obligation, as in Soviet times. If these changes were to come into force, those who refuse work even when acceptable jobs are available would face mandatory community service. The draft was passed by the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly in April, but has not yet made its way to the State Duma.