(Apr. 1, 2009) On March 3, 2009, a bill on amendments to the Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure was introduced in the State Duma (legislature) of the Russian Federation. The bill provides for the establishment of criminal responsibility for selling tobacco and alcohol products, including beer, to individuals under 18 years of age. If passed, the new amendment will provide for a six-month term of imprisonment for those who sell the prohibited items to minors and/or own the establishment where such sales occurred. Fines in an amount equal to US$2,000, correctional labor, revocation of a license to sell alcohol products, and restrictions on employment in sales positions for up to two years are mentioned as possible alternative punishments. A separate bill provides for an increase in the minimum drinking age from 18 to 21 years.
Drinking by minors is an acute problem in Russia. According to the introductory note to the bill, as a rule, Russians begin to consume alcohol at the age of 13, and up to 70 percent of those who are under 24 years of age drink alcoholic beverages regularly. Although this bill was supported by all the relevant executive agencies, on March 24, 2009, the Duma decided to postpone the final voting on it until further review. (Russian Federation State Duma Reports on Legislation Under Consideration [in Russian], Russian Federation State Duma official website, http://asozd.duma.gov.ru/work/dz.nsf/ByID/AA972A1A0BCD1091C325757F003116
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