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Social Network VKontakte Joins Duma Clampdown on 'Medical' Alcohol

Maxim Stulov / Vedomosti

Russian social network Vkontakte has agreed to ban all online groups involved in the sale of medicinal alcohol via vending machines, the Interfax news agency reported Tuesday.

The move was made at the request of Russia's State Duma as part of a clampdown on the medicines, which are often used as a substitute for vodka.

"Consumers are attracted to the low-quality alcohol with food-based names such as 'bread lotion' and 'honey tonic,' as well as the high alcohol content," said Nikolai Govorin, deputy chairman of the Duma's Healthcare Committee

 "People rightly fear for their children, who can purchase these products through vending machines at relatively low costs without needing to provide a passport."

The manufacturers of the medicinal tinctures - many of which contain 75 percent alcohol - market their products as a "non-food" items, allowing them to bypass certain restrictions, Govorin said.

New measures needed to be put in place to restrict the sale of the vending machines online, and to classify the tinctures as alcohol, he said.

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