Mark Lawrence Schrad

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America's favorite sex-and-relationships columnist, Dan Savage, has called for a boycott of Russian vodka to protest violent attacks on gays by nationalist thugs and antigay legislation backed by President Vladimir V. Putin. It’s an understandable response, but the prospects for the boycott’s succeeding are slim, and the potential for it to backfire on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Russians is high.

Polls estimate that two-thirds of Russians consider homosexuality unacceptable under any circumstance, similar to where American attitudes were three decades ago. In that conservative context, a perceived threat, even symbolic, from the liberal West would be a blessing for Mr.…  Seguir leyendo »

In an effort to reduce both its sky-high alcoholism rate and its budget gap, Russia recently announced plans to quadruple the tax on the country’s eternal vice, vodka, over the next three years.

But while the move might be well intentioned, the long history of liquor taxation in Russia exposes a critical obstacle in the path of any anti-drinking campaign: the Kremlin’s own addiction to liquor revenues, which has derailed every previous effort to wean Russians from their tipple.

Russians consume about 18 liters of pure alcohol per person a year, more than twice the internationally recommended limit, a rate that President Dmitri A.…  Seguir leyendo »