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Heavy drinking, smoking must be resisted, but not Soviet style — Putin

August 14, 2014, 16:53 UTC+3 YALTA
In his opinion a comprehensive approach - a combination of healthy lifestyles and fitness - would be far more effective
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© ITAR-TASS/Sergei Fadeichev

YALTA, August 14. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin believes heavy drinking and smoking are social problems that surely have to be addressed, but at the same time he preferred to make some reservations. For instance, he warned that sky-high excise duties on tobacco and a re-run of the unsuccessful Soviet-era campaigns against alcoholism would merely cause harm.

As he answered State Duma members’ questions at a meeting in the southern resort city of Yalta in Crimea, Putin agreed that the authorities should by all means throw their weight behind anti-drinking and anti-smoking campaigns.

“But it would be very wrong to do that the Soviet way,” Putin said adding that that policy had achieved nothing in terms of easing alcoholic abuse.

“People started using substandard alcohol and distilling home-made liquors and so on,” he said. In his opinion a comprehensive approach - a combination of healthy lifestyles and fitness - would be far more effective.

Putin acknowledged that some government officials were for a drastic hike in the excise duties on tobacco. However, he is certain that if such a measure is taken overnight, smokers will not be smoking less, but just switch to all sorts of crap.” If excise duties are to be raised after all, that must be done slowly, step by step.

Also, Putin replied to the idea of struggle against energy drinks. He agreed that counter-measures should be far more resolute than they have been so far.

When asked about foreign investment, Putin said he was certain foreign investors’ money in Russia should enjoy reliable protection.

He pointed out that Russia must create conditions that would let any investor, including a foreign one, feel that there was no risk of being cheated.

“If a person or company has brought in investments, they are to be certain the investments will not be taken away, that they are under the protection of government policies,” he said.

Tax amnesty

 Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday did not rule out tax amnesty in Russia, but called for thorough consideration of this issue.

“I don’t exclude this possibility,” he told members of the factions of political parties in the State Duma lower house of parliament. He added that if the parliament passed this law, he would sign it.

The president said amnesties of different kind have been granted in Russia, including to criminals. He said these amnesty decisions quite often had fallen short of the expectations, adding that such moves should be thoroughly considered in the future. He said, in particular, that many amnestied convicts continued to commit crimes, which casts doubt on the state’s efforts to combat crime.

The president also answered a question about his attitude to such measures as the use of reserves or raising taxes. Putin said both these measures are bad, but often unavoidable. “It would also be wrong to plainly sit on the bag of money,” he said, adding that the relevant discussion is conducted daily with the participation of the Finance Ministry and Economic Development Ministry.

Putin also said that Russia already uses funds from its reserves, including for the infrastructure development.

National security

National security is guaranteed for Russia despite treaty limitations on intermediate-and short-range missiles, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday.

Participation in the Intermediate Nuclear Force Treaty was no idle matter, Putin said, answering questions at a meeting with political factions of the State Duma lower house of parliament.

Russia and the United States were the only signatories to the accord, Putin said, adding that potentially, the US did not need such weapons.

For Russia, however, things were different, the president said. Many neighbouring states had intermediate- or short-range missiles. But while China did not raise Russian concerns, "the development of this class of armaments in Pakistan cannot but worry us," Putin added.

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