In an attempt to get drunk, 41 residents of Siberian city Irkutsk have passed away after ingesting scented bath oil. On Monday, Russian investigators explained that this was one of the deadliest cases of its kind in recent years.
While talking to reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: "It is a terrible tragedy. This type of problem is well known and the president has been informed. Measures must be taken."
In Russia's lower economic regions, the use of surrogate alcohol is rampant. The victims of the incident were reportedly poor residents from the "hard scrabble city" of Irkutsk located 2,600 miles east of Moscow, according to Reuters.
A team from Moscow was sent to the location in order to investigate the situation. Russian News agencies explained that the Mayor of Irkutsk placed a temporary ban on the sale of all liquids that contain alcohol that is not intended for human consumption.
The investigators released this statement: "According to our latest data 41 of 57 people who were hospitalized after drinking the liquid have died. More than 2,000 units of the liquid have been confiscated with an overall volume of 500 liters."
Investigators revealed that the bath oils had labels that explained that the product should not be swallowed. However, the Irkutsk residents completely ignored the warning. According to the law enforcement officials working the case, the bath oil contained methylated spirit – "a toxic substance found in cleaning materials and paint stripper."
At the facility where the bath oil was made, bootleg vodka was also being produced.
A criminal case has been opened into the poisoning incident. The investigators have apprehended two people who have been named suspects in the distribution of the deadly bath oils.
Alexei Navalny, a man seeking to challenge Vladimir Putin for the presidency in 2018, spoke on the issue. Navalny believes the only reason this tragic incident prompted media attention was because of the amount of people that died simultaneously. He maintains that many people die every day in unrelated cases for the exact same reason.
"The problem...for Russia and its national security is roughly a thousand times more important than Syria, Aleppo, Ukraine, and Trump put together," Navalny said.
Navalny also believes that the problem is so extreme in Russia that it is even deadlier than terrorism.
"Every year ... (such concoctions) kill more people than have been killed in terrorist attacks in Russia's entire history."
According to Vadim Drobiz, an alcohol market expert, 12 million Russians – or one twelfth of the population – consume cheap surrogate alcohol.
What are your thoughts about this surrogate alcohol epidemic in Russia?