What Is ‘Cosmetic Alcohol’ And Why Is It Killing So Many Russians?

REUTERS/Eduard Korniyenko

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Jacob Bojesson Foreign Correspondent
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At least 49 people in the Siberian city of Irkutsk have died from drinking toxic bath oil in an attempt to get drunk.

The death toll is expected to rise with dozens of people receiving treatment in the hospital.

A cosmetic lotion sold in Russian-occupied Crimea containing methanol instead of ethanol has been distributed on the streets as a substitute to alcohol. Officials seized more than 2,000 liters (528 gallons) of the bath oil at a manufacturing plant. Seven people have been arrested for manufacturing and distributing the product.

Russia has a high rate of alcohol addiction and a large market for illegal alcohol trade and substitute products with similar effects. Cheap perfumes, face toners and products with high alcohol content are commonly consumed among the country’s poorest individuals.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev urged the government to take measures against the trade when he commented on the mass poisoning Monday.

“We cannot just accept this anymore,” Medvedev told reporters. “All available measures need to be taken to either seize such products and take them out of retail, or put the trade under full control.”

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