TASS-DOSSIER. On October 21, it became known that the death toll from methyl alcohol poisoning in the Sverdlovsk region rose to 24 people. This was reported to journalists by a representative of the state prosecution in the Chkalovsky District Court of Yekaterinburg. At the same time, Dmitry Chukreev, the coordinator of the United Russia party’s “People’s Control” project in the region, told TASS that the number of deaths, according to preliminary information, had grown to 26. From October 7 to October 14, in the Chkalovsky district of Yekaterinburg, several people sold methyl alcohol to citizens. A criminal case was initiated under Part 3 of Art. 238 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (“Sale of goods and products that do not meet the requirements of the safety of life or health of consumers, resulting in the death of two or more persons by negligence”). On October 21, the court arrested two suspects in the sale of counterfeit alcohol.
According to Rosstat, 10,206 people died in Russia during 2020 due to accidental alcohol poisoning, which is 3,755 more than in 2019. One of the causes of alcohol poisoning is the use of alcohol-containing liquids, which are obviously not intended for drinking. For the solution in them, instead of drinking ethyl alcohol (ethanol), it contains toxic methyl alcohol (methanol). By smell and taste, it is indistinguishable from ethyl, but at the same time a deadly poison: for a lethal outcome, it is enough to drink 80-150 milliliters. Counterfeit alcoholic beverages also use substandard ethyl alcohol or substandard methanol. The use of counterfeit alcohol leads to severe poisoning, loss and even death. The consequences of drinking alcohol and other alcohol substitute products: colognes, formic alcohol, antifreeze, etc.
The largest cases of poisoning with surrogate alcohol in Russia
Taking into account the emergency of 2021 in the Sverdlovsk region, in total, five cases of mass poisoning of consignments of surrogates were recorded in Russia, which led to the death of more than 20 people.
On April 1, 1994, a railway tank car, marked “Caution, poison”, arrived at the Syzran railway station (Samara region) for preventive maintenance. According to the documents, it was listed as empty. However, at the station, where it was supposed to be rinsed before repairs, there were about 300 liters of liquid with an alcoholic smell. Deciding that it was drinking alcohol, the workers poured the liquid into cans and cans, took it home and drank it. As a result, 20 people died and another 44 people were injured.
In the period from October 26 to November 14, 2005, 34 residents of Magadan died as a result of the use of handicraft alcoholic beverages containing methyl alcohol. Most of those killed were unemployed between the ages of 45 and 60. According to the investigation, six residents of the city were engaged in the production, storage and sale of poisonous products, who used the technical liquid “Metelitsa” to make a surrogate. The products were sold or exchanged for handed over scrap metal and glassware.
On December 19, 2016 in Irkutsk 76 people died of poisoning with an alcohol-containing agent for taking baths “Hawthorn”. In total, 123 people suffered from the poisoning. The poisoning has become the largest of its kind in the history of modern Russia. A criminal case was initiated under Part 3 of Art. 238 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. In the period from February 2018 to January 2020, five people were found guilty of distributing the surrogate – the owner of the shopping pavilion, the seller and three more residents of Irkutsk. They were sentenced to imprisonment for terms ranging from 2.5 to three years in a colony. In August 2020, the Leninsky District Court of Irkutsk found seven more people guilty of the production and sale of the falsified Hawthorn. It was found that from November to December 2016, they purchased about 160 liters of methyl alcohol, made from it the artisanal method “Hawthorn” and collected it in Irkutsk. The convicts were sentenced to imprisonment for terms of seven to ten years in a general regime colony.
On October 7-13, 2021, in the Orenburg region, as a result of poisoning with surrogate alcohol using methanol, 35 people were killed, another 29 were injured. The next and the police found two warehouses and a production point located in a private house in Orsk. About 3 thousand liters of alcohol-containing liquid were seized. 14 criminal cases were initiated, combined into one proceeding. 17 people were detained, 15 of them are in custody, one is under house arrest.
The largest case of surrogate alcohol poisoning in the world
Prior to the events of 2016 in Irkutsk, the largest recorded case of poisoning with surrogate alcohol occurred on September 9-10, 2001 in Estonian Pärnu. Shortly before the tragedy, workers at the local Baltfet plant stole 20 cans of methyl alcohol from the plant and poured their contents into vodka bottles with labels of expensive brands. As a result of the poisoning, 68 people died, 43 people became disabled. 19 people were convicted of poisoning.