- Baltimore Entrepreneur Translates Human Biomarkers Into A Health Score
- Interstate Accident Causes Backup
- Fire Crews Respond to Barn Fire
- Hong Kong protesters denied entry into China
- Dog owners risk vomiting and kidney failure feeding pets Christmas treats
- SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE: Threadbare Prince Charles and his oh-so shabby sofas
- Supermarkets selling 'fresh' fish that's really 15 DAYS old: Experts said food from some of Britain's biggest chains could start to taste 'off' after just a day in the fridge
- Two men suffer serious injuries after gas explosion rips the side off two-storey building in Birmingham
- QUENTIN LETTS shouts bravissimo as Venice bans suitcases
- 'How could I deny my sons the possibility of being together?' Couple adopt two boys... and then agree to adopt SIX more of their brothers
Don't Drink... Dairy and Drive
More from World News
- He'll be Vlad once it's over: Tense meetings, awkward handshakes and shunted to the edge of family photos - it's been a G20 to forget for Putin
- Ukraine rejects 'fake' photos of MH17 downing
- 'Syrian hero boy' is a FAKE: Footage of youngster dodging sniper fire to rescue girl was actually shot on Gladiator film set by Norwegian director using professional actors
- Angela Merkel poses for photos at Brisbane's Brewski Bar
- Photos kept in family for 47 years show Che Guevara after he was killed by the Bolivian army in 1967
MOSCOW — Russia's top health official said Monday that drinking and driving don't mix — even when the drink in question is kefir, a fermented milk beverage containing less than one percent alcohol.
The comments by Gennady Onishchenko, Russia's chief sanitary inspector, sparked an outburst of criticism and ridicule on Twitter. Dozens of users circulated a picture of a glass of kefir with the caption, "Kefir? NO! I'm driving!"
Officials have scrambling to condemn drunk driving since an intoxicated driver in September killed seven people, including five orphans, after crashing into a bus stop in Moscow. Some lawmakers have proposed life sentences for drivers who cause death while under the influence. One has said drunk driving is a bigger threat than terrorism.
During a hearing of the Public Chamber, a governmental oversight body, on a proposal to raise the minimum blood-alcohol level for drivers, Onishchenko said kefir lovers "should decide — are you going to get behind the wheel, or drink kefir?"
"Here's a guy who loves kefir, poor baby, we've curbed his rights," Onishchenko went on. "But what about when he kills our children and our citizens?"
Getting drunk off kefir is practically impossible.
The comments mark an about-face for Onishchenko, previously a staunch supporter of kefir. During record heat waves in 2010, Onishchenko suggested that traffic policemen in southern Russia drink kefir to stay cool. Last year he suggested Russians choose the healthier option of kefir over sugar-filled, foreign-made soft drinks.
Russia's tolerated blood-alcohol level for drivers is zero, which means people who take certain medications or drink kefir can be found guilty of drunk driving. Critics allege that the law encourages police corruption, and have called for the level to be raised.
About 30,000 Russians die in road accidents each year — about the same as in the European Union, which has three times as many people and six times as many cars. Only 1,000 of those are caused by drunk driving, according to official statistics, but given lax police enforcement, the real total is widely believed to be much higher.
Onishchenko is regularly mocked for supposed health concerns that curiously coincide with political disputes. He has issued blanket bans on Georgian wine and mineral water and Ukrainian cheese amid Russian spats with those countries. As the Kremlin issued increasingly anti-American pronouncements this summer, Onishchenko implored Russians not to eat hamburgers, which he said were "not our food."
And as Moscow prepared for unprecedented protests against President Vladimir Putin in December, Onishchenko warned Russians away from taking to the streets for fear of catching cold.