Image provided by: University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries, Lincoln, NE
About The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923 | View Entire Issue (Dec. 1, 1914)
Vol, ii; no. 12
Story of How Strong Drink Was Barred
to Russia's Millions
Following Is a report carried by
(ho Associated Press:
Petrograd, Russia, Nov. 18 There
is prohibition in Russia today, pro
hibition which means that not a drop
of vodka, whisky, brandy, gin or any
other strong liquor is obtainable
On that day when the mobilization
of tho Russian army began, special
policemen visited every public place
where vodka is sold, locked up the
supply of the liquor, and placed on
the shop the imperial seal. Since the
manufacture and sale of vodka Is. a
from ono ond to tho other of a terrl- government monopoly in Russia, it
tory populated by 150,000,000 peo- - Is not a dimcuit tning 10 eniorue iru
plo and covering one-sixth of the . hibitlon.
habitable globe. Frpm the day this step was taken,
The story of how strong drink has drunkenness vanished in Russia: The
been utterly banished from tho Rus- results are seen. at once in the peas
sian empire was related to tho Asso
elated Press by Michael Demitrovitch
Tchelisheff, the man directly respon
sible for putting an end to. Russia's
great vice, tho vodka habit.
It should be said i. the beginning
that the word prohibition in Russia
must be taken literally. Its use does
not imply a partially successful at
tempt to curtail the consumption of
liquor, resulting in drinking in secret
places, the abuse pf medical licenses,
and general evasion and subterfuge.
It does mean that a vast population
who consumed $1,000,000,000 worth
of vodka" a yar; whose ordinary
condition has been described by Rus
sians themselves as ranging from a
slight degree of stimulation upward,
has been lifted almost in one day
from a drunken inertia to sobriety.
Tho nation has been compelled, vir
tually overnight, to abandon its enor
mous day consumption of vodka, a
liquor that is almost pure alcohol,
and become abstemious to the extent,
of letting no liquor pass its lips.
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antry; already they are beginning to
look like a dffferent race. The marks
of suffering, the pinched looks of ill-r
ness and improper nourishment have
gone from, their faces. There has
been also a remarkable change in
the appearance . of their clothing.
Their clothes are cleaner, and, both,
tho men and women appear more
neatly and better dressed. The. des
titute character of the homes., of the
poor has been replaced with some
thing like order and thrift. In-Petr'o-grad
and Moscow the effect of these
improved conditions is fairly startl
ing. On holidays in these two-cities
inebriates always filled the police
stations and often lay about on the
sidewalks and even in the streets.
Things are so different today that un
attended women may now pass at
night through portions of these cities
where It was formerly dangerous
even for men. Minor crimes and
misdemeanors have almost vanished.
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villagers who were abstemious, had
sufficient provisions in their own
homes. Thus it was that I observed
the industrial effects of vodka drink-"
"At Samara I decided to do more
than passively disapprove of vodka.
At this time I -was an alderman, and
many of tho tenants living in my
houses were working men. One night
a drunken father in one of my houses
killed his wife.; This, -incident niadg
such, a terrible impression on me that
I decidod to fight Vodka- with all my
REFUSED BY GOVERNMENT :
"On tho Supposition that the gov
ermerit was selling vodka for reven
ue, I calculated the revenue received
''Disappointed at not having heen
able to get thrbugh a government bill
regulating this evil, I had abandoned
my seat 'in the Duma. It was evident
that the bureaucracy had been able
to obstruct the measure. Minister of
Finance Kokovsoff regarded it as a
dangerous innovation, depriving the
government of 1,000,.000,000 rubles
($600,000,000) yearly, without anv
method of replacing this revenue.
"While I lobbied in Petrograd the
emperor' visited th0 country around
Moscow and saw the. havoc of vodka
He then dismissed Kokovsoff and ap
pointed the. present minister of
"Mobilization-precipitated the anti-vodka-measure.
- TJlft Grnnil FinU
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xiuiu na uuu&uuijjLiuu uir ouuuuu. .a. i itjLuuu.iuui.mg uie-'uisorganizatioii due
then introduced i bill in the- cit-y to drunkenness during-the mobiliza
council pr iding that the city glvteion of 1904, ordered- the -prohibition
this sum of money to the imperial j of all alcoholic drinks except in clubs
treasury, requesting at the samo time, and first-class Testaurants-This order
that the sale of vodka be prohibited. ! enforced for one month-, showed thp
The bill was passed, -and the money", Russian- authorities the value of ah-
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inner, ara uaed. No. , I i HI l dq k. U. I
Erics ISO. credit term 110 VI ill ,. .T ajnr ' I
down, balauca 66 a month.Ml'HP Up, HaH I
lad all othflr In nnntil-rtlvU r4fcrL - aM 1
lHtvfUt ! I
jaka lM tl I i
aww. 'cr or? over a.uw nugqaa. lH f wy "M
ttofwfur lfta-baiitl(ul llluatrationa H B
of IKamoBua. Watch, artlitlc Jew. YiB t. jB
alrv. SaHvorwara and Novelties ll at laH . aftS
votxm. miii daar.
nil. 'inn larsa Uluitratlon ri
varr detail of thin azaul
dnlati. Only thallneit quality
y brtu I
hr a ChrlibHM tlft
Tha famiMja TtftU ,Pfw
f acUoa' 1 4K aulld cold mount
nr inn lara-a uiuitralion n
cut and full of firry
lancy, are uaed. No, 669.
itlca SCO. credit term tl
town, b&lknc fifi k monu
lAftdil all othnra In nnmilAritv.
(ImAixl In valvAt Wnir Fmiy. read
for nrcaantntlan. Wn nnuff ill
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tntad Cauloir ahaura uil LoftM
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i hava everything chantod In ono
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LOFTIM BROS. A GO.'
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fMt. U ! . MS H. SMt Stnel; CMcm. M.
htm aW w I'itUbutgbi lit, Loulr. Omkha
This miracle has been virtually ac
complished by one man. He is Mi
chael D. Tchelisheff, a peasant by
birth, originally a house painter by
profession, then mayor of Samara,
and now millionaire. Physically he
is a giant, standing over six feet four
inches and of powerful build. Al
though he Is 55 years old, he looks
much younger. His movements dis
play the energy of youth, his eyes are
animated, and his black hair is not
tinged by gray.
In Petrograd Mr. Tchelisheff is
generally found in a luxurious suite
of rooms in one of the best hotels.
He goes about clad in a blue blouse
with a tiasseled girdle and baggy
black breeches tucked into heavy
boots. He offers his visitors tea from
a samovar and fruit from the Crimea.
VODKA A POISON
Speaking of what ho had accom
plished for the cause of sobriety in
Russia, Mr. Tchelisheff said:
"I was reared In a small Russian
village. TheYe were no schools or
hospitals, or any of the improvements
we are accustomed to . in civilized
communities. I picked un an educa
tion from old newspapers and 'stray
books. One day I chanced upon a
book in the hands of a moujlk, which"
treated of the harmfulness ot alco
hol. It stated among other things
that vodka was a "poison. I was so
impressed with this, knowing that
everybody drank vodka, that I asked
the first physician I met If the state
ment were true. He said yes. Men
drank it, he explained, because mo
mentarily it gave them a sensation
of pleaBant dizziness. From that
time I decided to take every oppor
tunity to discover more about the use
"At the end of the eighties there
came famine in Russia followed by
agrarian troubles. I -saw a crowd of
peasants uemaua- rroni a local land
lord all the grain. and foodstuffs in
his granary. This puzzled, me; I
could not understand how honest
men were, Indulging in what seemed
to be highwny "robiiery. But I noted
at the time that every man who was
taking part in this incident was a
drinking ''mart, wliile their fellow
was appropriated. It was offered to
the government', but the government
promptly refused it. v
"It then dawned upori- me that
Russian "bureaucracy did'' not want
the Russian people "to biecomej sober,,
for the reason that it was- easier- to
rule autocratically a drunken mob
than a'sober people. i ;
"This was seven years ago. Later
I was elected mayor of' Samara cap
ital of the Volga district, a district
with over a quarter of a million in
habitants. Subsequent to holding
this office I was elected to the Duma
on an anti-vodka platform. In the
Duma I proposed a bill permitting
the inhabitants of any town to close
the local vodka shops and providing
also that every bottle of vodka
should bear a label with the word
poison. At my request the wording
of this label, in which the evils Of
vodka were set forth, was done by
the late Count Leo Tolstbi.-, vThis bjlf
passed the Duma and went to the im
perial council, where it was amended
and finally tabled.
"I then begged an audience of Em
peror Nicholas. He received me with
greajt kindness in his castle- in the
Crimea, not far from the scene of the
recent Turkish bombardment. He
listened to me patiently. He was im
pressed with my recitals that most of
the revolutionary and socialist ex
cesses were committed by drunkards
and that the Svaborg. Kronstadt and
Sebastopol navy revolts and the Pet.
rogratt and other mutinous military
movements were all caused by inebri
ates. Having heard me out; his ma
jesty promised at once to speak to
the minister of finance concerning
the prohibition of vodka.
stlnence. In spite of the general de
pression caused by the war; the pa
ralysis, of business, the closing -of fac
tories, and the interruption of rail
road traffic .the people felt no priva
tion. Savings banks- showed an in
crease in deposits over the preceding
month and' over the corresponding
kmonth of the preceding year. At the
Dame mac lutjie -was u uuum in cue
sale of meats.'groceries, clothing, dry
goods and house furnishings.
"The 30,a0.d;000 rubles a day that
had been paid for vodka were now
beinff spent for e:necesslties of life.
Tho average tv fking "weejc increased
from three and Xo'ur days to six, the
numerous holidays of the drinker
having been eliminated. The working
day also became longer, and tile effi
ciency "of the worker was perhai3
doubled. t Women and .children, who
seldom w'er.eiy'Jhpu (&jn aylcssh 6 w in g
the physical violence' .6 ttlTe Husband
and father, suddenly found" them
selves fn an undreamed-of paradise.
There were -no blows, no insults and
no rough treatment. There was bread
on the table,. 'milk for the-ba'bies and
a fire in the kitchen.
"I decided to seize this occasion
for a press campaign, so far as this
is a possible, thing .in Russia. I or
ganized delegations to prevent
petitions to the . proper author
ities . for the prolonging of
this new sobriety for the' dur
ation of the war. This step found
favor with His Imperial Majesty, and
an order -was issued to that effect.
Another similar campaign to remove
the licenses from privileged restau
rants and. clubs was successful, and
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