Anti-alcohol vigilantes attack drinking Russians

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Indy Lifestyle Online

A gang of anti-alcohol vigilantes has targeted beer-sipping Russians in a series of attacks on the streets of the southern city of Rostov-on-Don, local police said Wednesday.

"We have learned of several attacks since September against young people gathered in the streets to drink," police spokesman Dmitry Loginov told AFP.

"Many witnesses to or victims of these attacks have described them in their blogs, but no one has yet filed an official complaint," he added.

Bloggers on local news site 161.ru described the attackers as youths aged between 14 and 18 who wore white medical masks, jeans and T-shirts.

The reports said the gang had beat and kicked other youths found swigging beers in the city's parks - a favorite pastime of Russians in the alcohol-loving nation.

Freshly-tagged graffiti pictured on buildings around the city warned: "Russians: Stop Getting Wasted!" and "Russians Don't Get Drunk!" in pro-prohibition slogans echoing Soviet-era propaganda campaigns.

The identity of the mystery anti-alcohol outlaws remains unclear, although in the past ultra-nationalist groups in Russia have targeted drunks for allegedly sapping the nation's strength.

The Kremlin has recently imposed a ban on drink driving, new minimum legal price limits for vodka and outlawed nighttime sales of alcohol to curb abuse blamed for the deaths of thousands of Russians every year.

Alcohol abuse kills around 500,000 Russians annually and greatly impacts male life expectancy, which is lower than in such developing countries as Bangladesh and Honduras, according to official figures.

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