Moscow – Fourteen people have died of alcohol poisoning in Russia, officials said Friday, with investigators launching criminal probes.
An additional eight people were hospitalized in the region of Orenburg, around 1 500km southeast of Moscow in the southern Urals.
“As of now we know of 22 victims, 14 of whom have died,” the governor’s office said on messaging app Telegram.
Governor Denis Pasler said regional authorities had launched inspections of alcohol distributors.
“Before the results of the checks are received consumption of alcohol can threaten your life,” Pasler was quoted as saying.
The Orenburg branch of the Investigative Committee said on Friday it had opened five probes including into the sale of goods not meeting safety standards. Three people had been detained in connection with the deaths.
One of them – a 29-year-old man from the town of Orsk -is suspected of producing surrogate alcohol, investigators said in a statement. The workshop producing alcohol has also been uncovered.
Homemade spirits and household products containing alcohol are popular throughout the former Soviet Union as a cheap alternative to standard brands, but are also blamed for a large number of alcohol-related deaths.
Those who buy them to drink are usually the most socially disadvantaged.
In 2016, dozens of people died in the Siberian city of Irkutsk after drinking bath essence containing methanol, a toxic substance used in anti-freeze.