Three years after the start of the campaign against alcoholism, the Kremlin is learning that it is not enough to reduce sales in order to solve the problem.

For a long time the newspapers publicized the victory cries of those responsible for the campaign, with impressive figures to support them. But then, with the help of glasnost, readers swamped editors with more realistic letters: In a word, people were drinking differently, but they were still drinking.The same letters ridiculed triumphant statistics describing, for example, the extensive membership of "sobriety societies," when the total was shown to have been inflated by forcibly enrolling drinkers found later in flagrant contravention of the rules.

The results of the campaign have not been entirely negative. There are fewer workers drunk in the factories; business lunchers are regaled with mineral water, and tourists are denied the once classic spectacle of drunks sleeping off their vodka on the pavements.

But the population continues to drink. It continues to buy what it can, wherever it can find it in one of the depleted number of "wine shops" during the limited opening hours.

Neither fines, nor prison sentences, nor wall posters showing pictures of convicted samogontchiki have proved effective.