Flat Earth: Drinking for the sake of the party

WE may have our problems with lager louts, but the Russians have turned beer-drinking into a political party. Why not vodka? Well, it's not because of shortages after the temporary closure of Moscow's main vodka distillery, of that you can be certain. 'After vodka you want to hit someone in the face, but beer unites people,' says Dmitri Shestakov, chairman of the Beer Drinkers' Party.

The union of politics and booze has a venerable history that goes back to the misty antecedents of the modern Russian state a thousand years ago. Its founder, Grand Prince Vladimir, ruler of Kiev and by all accounts a genial old buffer who converted Russia to Christianity, gave alcohol the stamp of official approval. 'Russia's joy,' he said, 'is drinking.'

With Vlad's advice as its campaign slogan, the Beer Drinkers' Party expects to sign up 100,000 members by the start of the summer, when Russians are most thirsty. To widen the party's appeal, Mr Shestakov has formed a political alliance with the Pelmeni Lovers' Party - named after the ravioli-style snack they gobble when they imbibe - and with the Association of Dissatisfied Women, which has no complaints about drunken husbands - its cause is to fight high prices.

TOE-HOLD ON HISTORY

A hospital identification tag and a hank of hair sold for dollars 8,800 ( pounds 6,000) at an auction in New York last week. We were told it set some sort of record, but no one seemed to know what for. The successful bidder said he was 'not into the morbidity of the whole thing. I just look at this as an investment.' The toe-tag and lock of hair were used to identify the corpse of Lee Harvey Oswald, the assassin of President Kennedy.

PEKING TUNES OUT

Ballroom dancing, to China's Communist Party, is like sexual scandal to Britain's Conservatives - you cannot comprehend one without the other. Mao Tse-tung was at it every Saturday night, soft-shoeing his way from the caves of Yenan to the pavilions of the Forbidden City. Deng Xiaoping, on the other hand, played bridge, which may explain how he survived while others were wrong- footed in the Great Helmsman's reels.

Now the Peking apparatchiks, forever killjoys, are attempting to end it all. Last week an edict listing new 'don'ts' for party cadres included dance parties. It was part of the latest anti-corruption drive. 'Lavish' dances will be off, but the occasional tea-dance may be permitted as long as the sound is turned down.

GREEK TO US

There comes a time when you have to admire the tenacity of Greek politicians and, against our better judgement, we have grown fond of the way they anger the rest of Europe with their highly strung chauvinism. Their latest provocation, on Friday, was to declare Turkey's national day on 19 May a day of mourning for the 'genocide' of Greeks on the shore of the Black Sea in 1919.

(Photograph omitted)

News
news
Voices
voicesThe Ukip leader on why he's done nothing illegal
Arts & Entertainment
artYouth club owner says mural is 'gift from the sky' so he can prevent closure of venue
News
science
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
Plans to decriminalise non-payment of television licence fees would cost the BBC £500m according to estimates drawn up within the Corporation
people
News
people
Life & Style
The new low cost smartphone of Motorola, 'Motorola Moto G', is displayed in Sao Paulo, Brazil on November 13, 2013. The smartphone, with dimensions 65.9mm W x 129.9mm H x 6.0 - 11.6mm D is equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 with quad-core 1,2 GHz CPU, a 4.5-inch display and Android Operating System 4.3 and a suggested price of $ 179 USD.
techData assessing smartphones has revealed tens of millions of phones are at risk of being harvested
Arts & Entertainment
Jessica Pare as Megan Draper and Jon Hamm as the troubled, melancholy Don Draper
tvAnd six other questions we hope Mad Men series seven will answer
Arts & Entertainment
Cody and Paul Walker pictured in 2003.
film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Online Advertising Account Executive , St Pauls , London

£26K-30k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...

Advertising Account Executive - Online, Central London

£25K-28k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...

Senior Infrastructure Consultant

£50000 - £65000 Per Annum potentially flexible for the right candidate: Clearw...

Public Sector Audit - Bristol

£38000 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Do you have experience of ...

Day In a Page

Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal
Supersize art

Is big better? Britain's latest super-sized art

The Kelpies are the latest addition to a growing army of giant sculptures. But naysayers are asking what a pair of gigantic horse heads tells us about Falkirk?
James Dean: Back on the big screen

James Dean: Back on the big screen

As 'Rebel without a Cause' is re-released, Geoffrey Macnab reveals how its star perfected his moody act
Catch-22: How the cult classic was adapted for the stage

How a cult classic was adapted for the stage

More than half a century after it was published 'Catch-22' will make its British stage debut next week
10 best activity books for children

10 best activity books for children

Keep little ones busy this bank holiday with one of these creative, educational and fun books
Arsenal 3 West Ham United 1: Five things we learnt from the battle between the London sides

Five things we learnt from Arsenal's win over West Ham

Arsenal still in driving seat for Champions League spot and Carroll can make late charge into England’s World Cup squad
Copa del Rey final: Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even victory over Real Madrid will put things right

Pete Jenson on the Copa del Rey final

Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even victory over Real Madrid will put things right
Rafa to reign? Ten issues clay courts will serve up this season

Rafa to reign? Ten issues clay courts will serve up this season

With the tennis circus now rolling on to the slowest surface, Paul Newman highlights who'll be making the headlines – and why
Exclusive: NHS faces financial disaster in 2015 as politicians urged to find radical solution

NHS faces financial disaster in 2015

Politicians urged to find radical solution
Ukraine crisis: How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?

Ukraine crisis

How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: The first execution at the Tower of London for 167 years

The first execution at the Tower of London for 167 years

A history of the First World War in 100 moments
Fires could turn Amazon rainforest into a desert as human activity and climate change threaten ‘lungs of the world’, says study

New threat to the Amazon rainforest:

Fires that scorch the ‘lungs of the Earth’
Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City: And the winner of this season’s Premier League title will be...

Who’s in box seat now? The winner of the title will be ...

Who is in best shape to take the Premier League prize?