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Let's take a look at the chronology of the fight against drunkenness, which, oddly enough, often turned into a fight against sobriety. So let's go.

1858 Prohibition of sentences in favor of sobriety

The population of the Russian Empire began to massively commit the so-called judgments in favor of sobriety - to collectively refuse to drink alcohol. The participants in this movement, mostly peasants, were not satisfied with the pricing policy of drinking establishments. In the Russian Empire, there was a ransom system of alcohol trade: having bought a license from the state to sell alcohol, innkeepers could set prices for it themselves and mercilessly inflate them - if in the early 1850s a bucket of vodka cost 3 rubles, then by the 58th the price rose to RUB 10 To spend such a huge amount of money (the average salary of a worker at that time was 15 rubles) on drinking was considered inappropriate by the peasants, and whole villages announced the beginning of a sober life. So, for example, they completely stopped drinking in the village of Karamyshev, which belonged to Prince Menshikov. 1,800 villagers who used to spend about 40 thousand rubles on drinking. a year, in 58, they gave up alcohol and did not even agree to drink from free barrels, with which the innkeepers tried to return their clients. By the spring of 59, it became clear that the sobriety movement was so popular with the population that it threatened the country's economy, and the Treasury Department issued an executive order instructing local authorities not to allow sobriety sentences. The peasants reacted to this ban with a powerful wave of riots that swept through 15 provinces. The protesters destroyed more than 260 taverns, in some areas the riot had to be suppressed by troops. As a result, about 11 thousand people were sent into exile or hard labor, so that the movement gradually came to naught.

1863 Prohibition of Catholic Temperance Societies

While "sober riots" were going on in the central provinces, the Catholic Church launched a campaign against drunkenness in the West of the empire. Bishop Motejus Valančius ordered the priests subordinate to him to take a vow of abstinence from alcohol, and from 1858 he began to create sobriety societies in churches. The parishioners swore in front of the altar to stop drinking and to see that others did not get drunk. The names of the teetotalers were included in a special book, and those who broke their vows were punished by the parishioners - they were locked in the bell tower and sometimes even flogged. In just two years, Valanchius gathered more than 80% of the inhabitants of the Kovno, Vilna and Grodno provinces into such sobriety societies. The campaign turned out to be even too effective: in 1860, tax revenues from the sale of alcohol in the provinces turned out to be less than the cost of collecting them. However, the fate of the project was decided not by economics, but by politics: after the Polish uprising in 1863, Governor-General of Grodno, Minsk and Vilna, Mikhail Muravyov saw in the anti-alcohol campaign a means of consolidating the Catholic population, which constituted the majority in the western provinces, and, frightened of possible anti-Russian protests, he banned societies and assemblies promoting sobriety by ordering to punish violators with fines, and in some cases, to bring them to court martial.

1895 Stamps instead of vodka

In 1894, Finance Minister Sergei Witte initiated the introduction of a wine monopoly in the country, and at the same time - guardianship for popular sobriety. They were supposed to educate the public and organize sobriety societies and affordable entertainment that would be an alternative to drinking. One of the first activities of this campaign was the opening of non-alcoholic spaces - clean teahouses where you could have a snack, read newspapers, play checkers or chess, buy envelopes, papers and stamps. In addition to postage stamps, special stamps (or bonds) of sobriety societies were introduced into circulation, which accepted cheap canteens, grocery stores and teahouses as payment for dinner. Wealthy townspeople bought such stamps and distributed them as alms and as payment for petty work, so that beggars and laborers spent them not on drinks, but on food. The initiative was popular - in the Vladimir province, for example, with a population of 1.5 million people in 1905, teahouses and canteens accepted more than 2 million of these stamps from visitors as payment for lunch - and it turned out to be tenacious: it was possible to exchange stamps for lunch in cooperating with the sobriety societies of canteens until the end of NEP.

1900s Theater instead of vodka

The second task of trusteeships and temperance societies was to create a network of leisure centers for the population. Since the end of the 19th century, public and amateur theaters, gardens for walks with attractions and folk houses with educational courses, lectures, libraries and children's developmental circles have been massively opened throughout the Russian Empire.