A vodka-drinking competition in a southern Russian town ended in tragedy with the winner dead and several runners-up in intensive care.
"The competition lasted 30, perhaps 40 minutes and the winner downed three half-litre bottles. He was taken home by taxi but died within 20 minutes," said Roman Popov, a prosecutor pursuing the case in the town of Volgodonsk. "Five contestants ended up in intensive care. Those not in hospital turned up the next day, ostensibly for another drink."
Popov said the director of the shop organising this month's contest had been charged with manslaughter. He had offered 10 litres of vodka to the competitor drinking the most in the shortest time.
Russians drink the equivalent of 15 litres of pure alcohol per head annually, one of the highest rates in the world. Some experts estimate one in seven Russians is an alcoholic.