St. Petersburg governor Georgy Poltavchenko unexpectedly proposed establishing a special sobering center that will provide medical help for those who drinks too much, first of all, for football visitors who are predicted to flood in large numbers during the FIFA World Cup 2018. The idea behind this is to separate buzzing fans from “normal people” in ordinary hospitals.
Since 2011, in Russia all alcohol intoxicated people have been cured in ordinary hospitals as the government had refused the idea to treat them in a special sobering center which had existed till recent times.
The scheme with hospitals seems to be working well though with regularly occurring accidents when the intoxicated people locked horns with first medical aid service employees and hospitals’ staff and other patients. A wish to pull alkies apart of other patients was consistently voiced over recent years, but without any support by officials.
Absolutely unexpectedly, in the middle of November, St. Petersburg’s governor told at a meeting on tackling alcohol problems that establishing a centralized sobering station is necessary and must be done. “We will finance it”, he said and ordered his employees to study the idea before 15 December 2017. “We need a point to bring this category of people to”, he added.
The governor’s words came after the chief prosecutor of St. Petersburg Sergey Litvinenko said that almost 1.000 people die in the city yearly because of problems associated with excessive alcohol consumption. The problem, he said, will get worse in the period of the World Cup 2018 when a lot of fans will arrive in the city to support their teams.
Naturally, a sobering station will continue to operate after the tournament, but it remains unclear what prevented the city’s officials from taking the same step before. The only answer here is that the city government is afraid of the necessity to take many drunken tourists to hospitals and police stations. A sobering center where a person can be brought to without the need to spend much time on fulfilling in many papers and other formalities looks like a simple solution.
Ironically, the first sobering station in the USSR was founded in Leningrad, how St. Petersburg was then called, in 1931. Contrary to some opinions and the image of the Soviet man as an adherent to high moral Communist ideals, the problem of alcoholism was very severe in the Soviet times. There was a few sobering centers in Leningrad, and every city had this kind of entity operated by the police. In the 2000s, the Ministry of Interior Affairs successfully closed them reasonably pointing out that a drunken man is out of the police’s area of competence if he doesn’t disturb public order, and, moreover, he may need medical assistance. The last sobering center in St. Petersburg was closed in 2011.
The idea by the governor will definitely be implemented as it doesn’t cost much money and can improve his image in the eyes of the population.
It’s difficult to say what will be the location of the station, but we guess it will be somewhere near the Krestovsky stadium where the games of the World Cup to take place next summer.
Russian social networks users reacted with humor and rather approvingly: “Wow, I can go to St. Petersburg as there definitely will be a place to spend night!” Or with some alert: “I can hardly think of the Russian and British drunken hooligans in the same sobering station”.