The Spectator

The Spectator at war: Our Russian allies

From The Spectator, 24 October 1914:

For years past the vodka monopoly in Russia has been a public scandal. Government officials, in order to get good financial returns, have connived at the abasement of the people by encouraging drink. Year by year the revenue from the vodka monopoly has increased by leaps and bounds till the present year, when it was estimated to yield £93,000,000, or very nearly a third of the total revenue of the Russian Empire. Critics of Russia have long lugubriously prophesied that, in spite of all the Tsar’s protestations in favour of temper. ance, he would never venture to take any step which would impair such a magnificent revenue as this. He has not only promised steps; he has already taken them. On the outbreak of war the sale of liquor ceased absolutely, and obviously the revenue which the Government was deriving from the profits on the sales ceased also. The promise now made that the whole system shall be permanently abolished can be accepted with the more readiness because it has been based upon experience of valuable results. According to report, Russia, from being one of the most drunken countries in Europe, has at a stroke become one of the most temperate.

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These are aspects of the Russian character which justify us in feeling immensely hopeful for the future.

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