Illegal swill: How alcohol trade with delivery works in Moscow and regions
Bootleggers from the Web will easily deliver any alcohol to your home at any time of the day. As the SHOT CHECK project found out, only no one will give any guarantees that this is not poison.
This summer, the methanol in the drink “Mr. Cider” killed thirty people across Russia and sent another seventy to a hospital bed in a serious condition. Alas, tragedies due to burnt alcohol occur regularly in our country. Earlier, in the fall of 2021, mass poisoning with a surrogate was recorded in the Orenburg region: 35 people died, half of all hospitalized.
In addition to the official alcohol market in Russia, there is also a black one. According to conservative estimates of NIFI, the volume of illegal remote sales exceeds 100 million bottles per year, of which about half are counterfeit. In recent years, according to the NIFI, there has been no significant progress in reducing alcohol-related deaths, and alcohol poisoning accounts for 26% of such deaths.
The black market thrives due to the lack of control: you can buy alcohol at any time of the day without checking documents and age. There is no need to talk about any certification, quality assurance and safety – none of the bootleggers bother with this. Here is a pure lottery, where health and life are at stake. According to the most modest estimates of experts, the turnover of the shadow market of alcohol in the Russian Federation exceeds 30 billion rubles a year.
One of the channels for promoting dubious products is round-the-clock home delivery sites for alcohol.
— Alcohol on the Internet is evil! We buy it without verifying the quality. No one will guarantee that we are buying safe for life, sorry for the expression, swill. What does all this mean? Of course, damage to health. And there will be no one to ask. No one will give checks either: this is illegal black trade! explains Rashid Ismailov, head of the Russian Ecological Society.
Maxim Chernigovsky, director of the Alcohol Market Professionals Club, suggests legalizing the online sale of alcohol and its delivery, because then it will all be easier to control.
— I am certainly a supporter of the legalization of online sales on the territory of the Russian Federation. I think it’s really absurd that we have this ban. Firstly, in most countries, including the countries of the Customs Union, online sales of legal alcohol are allowed. In addition, online sales have been proven to be safer in every way than offline sales. Because it is much easier to organize control over compliance with the law within the framework of online sales than within the framework of offline sales,” Chernigovskiy explained.
What the night alcohol laws say
Domestic laws prohibit the sale of alcohol both remotely and at night. The fine is up to 300 thousand rubles, and all alcohol that was in the store or warehouse at the time the violation was recorded is subject to confiscation. However, VTsIOM polls show that four out of five Russians have not even heard of a ban on the online sale of alcohol. As a result, the illegal service thrives and is in great demand.
During the year, Roskomnadzor closed about seven thousand sites where alcohol was sold and delivered around the clock. But instead of one closed site, three appear at once. Sales are also carried out through bots of popular instant messengers. Often, modern bootleggers use legal tricks: according to information from their portals, a client buys some kind of trinket, and for this they give him a bottle of vodka.
How alcohol deliveries work
According to legend, in a residential area of Moscow, a company went on a walk in an apartment, the “drink” was over, there was nowhere to go for more, and the state was no longer the same. The site for the sale of alcohol is a couple of clicks away. The mark-up is almost +200%, despite the fact that delivery is paid separately in the amount of five hundred rubles within the Moscow Ring Road, seven hundred – beyond the ring, one and a half thousand – to the Moscow suburbs. We dial the specified phone number. Hooters are in the subject: the song of Grigory Leps “A glass of vodka on the table.”
– Yes, sure. Payment by cash or transfer. Personally, I take vodka “Beluga”, “Absolute” or “Finlyandiya” for myself – the operator sells what is more expensive.
“But I don’t have my passport with me. Fine? Will you give?
– Why do you have such a question? It will be at the discretion of the courier, – the operator’s non-standard questions clearly alerted.
Having accepted the order, he handed it over for assembly and delivery.
A few minutes later the courier called.
Indeed, he did not have to wait long. At the indicated address, alcohol deliverers enter the yard on foot, leaving their work cars further away, where other packages of alcohol remain. It is understandable: if suddenly a control purchase or a raid, then at least the goods and transport will not be confiscated.
– Do not hesitate, not scorched, – the courier assures, passing packages of vodka. – Everything is from the store, we do not pour ourselves. We buy during the day to sell at night. You can check if there is such an application – called “Anti-counterfeiting”: you point the scanner at any alcohol, it shows in which store it was bought.
Having received a good tip, the courier opened up. This business is for you. They take it there only by personal acquaintance. The principle of operation is the same for everyone: a warehouse where goods are delivered (at best, from stores, and at worst, from underground workshops). The operator answers calls and transfers the order to couriers. The latter collect and deliver everything.
At parting, the courier gives new customers a good discount on the next purchase.
How everything works in the regions
The SHOT VERIFICATION project found sites for night delivery of alcohol in cities in the Kuban without any problems. Everything is simpler in the regions. Sometimes business is pulled by literally one person: he is the organizer, the operator, and the courier.
– Don’t get weed. If you want, I’ll check everything with you according to “Anti-counterfeit”, I have an attachment. I only buy from stores like Metro and Alkoteka. But never in the stalls, because half of their assortment is paleonka, – the bootlegger explained. – Okay, let’s go, I’ll deliver other orders.
Why “Anti-counterfeiting” is not a panacea
The “Anti-counterfeit” application checks alcohol, drawing information from the official EGAIS database. If everything is fine, then the manufacturer, the exact address of the seller, and the time of purchase with the receipt number are shown. This service did not recognize all the bottles from the test purchases of the SHOT CHECK project. One generally turned out to be from nowhere – 100% paleonka and counterfeit. For half, only the sales region was visible, but not a specific store.
The SHOT VERIFICATION project sent all the bottles purchased from night deliveries to specialized laboratories. According to the results of the examination, no dangerous poisons were found in this batch, the strength corresponded to the label, and for fusel oils, it also seems to be the norm. But that’s not always the case.
Let’s say the bottle is fair. It was indeed sold through a legal store, entered into the EGAIS system, and an honest brand hangs on it. If you read the barcode, you will see where it was made. However, in fact, it may turn out that the bootlegger got an empty branded bottle and filled it with new contents. That is, it turns out that this will be the second life of the bottle. What was poured there – no one knows. There was such a case in Samara. One such bootlegger was caught red-handed there. He went to restaurants and clubs and bought empty containers from bartenders, filled them with incomprehensible things and sold them. A batch of 2.5 thousand bottles ready for sale was confiscated from him. In Novokuznetsk, a similar business led to the death of people. The head of the nightclub celebrated his birthday, 17 of his guests went to intensive care, almost no one survived,” said Pavel Shapkin, head of the Center for the Development of National Alcohol Policy.
Online sale and delivery of alcohol will come out of the shadows
This summer, Senator Andrei Klishas introduced a bill to legalize the online sale of alcohol and its delivery to individuals. On the one hand, an indulgence, on the other, the sphere would fall under the control of the state and come out of the shadows. The initiative was supported by the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Economic Development, but there were critics among the deputies. They fear that socially Russia will roll back for years. Although there is world experience in online sales and home delivery of alcohol. Not only in Western Europe, but also among neighbors – in Armenia and Kazakhstan.
At the same time, judging by the experience of other countries, the legalization of the delivery of alcohol is only a matter of time. Nevertheless, making such a decision will require a qualitative study of all aspects of the issue and the serious participation of state bodies at the suggestion of the Ministry of Justice, while Klishas withdrew his initiative for revision.