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"People Drink, And They Drink A Lot, And They Drink For A Long Time, Because They Can’t Help But Drink.”

"People drink, and they drink a lot, and they drink for a long time, because they can't help but drink," said Yuliya Kovgan, 25, her voice trembling as she struggled to sit without falling over in a potato field on the edge of Ryazanovshchina, a Siberian village northeast of Irkutsk.

She was surrounded by a few dozen seed potatoes, an empty shot glass, a bottle of industrial-grade alcohol and her reeling brother, an unemployed roofer. Standing to the side in an old housecoat was Larisa Berezhnaya, her 53-year-old mother, tapping a grimy foot and affecting a disdainful air; it became apparent that she was drunk too.

"This is our life; we call it normal. We plant potatoes, we dig them out, and that's it," Berezhnaya shrugged. "There's nothing for people here."
Check out this series of articles about declining Russia.


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