Fight against drunkenness: Kazan decided to fight against alcoholism with moonshine museum

Despite Muslims' discontent, a room for degustation of the strong drink has opened

Fight against drunkenness: Kazan decided to fight against alcoholism with moonshine museum Photo: Yulia Shamsutdinova / evening-kazan.ru

The first Moonshine Museum in Russia, which has been called anti-alcohol, has opened in Kazan. The exhibition centre's key role is cultural – to tell the original tradition of history, ethnography and culture of moonshine production itself, thinks the project's mastermind Yury Kruglov. Realnoe Vremya's correspondent visited the excursion on the threshold of the museum's opening and found out what was in the foundation of the exhibition and whether one could swig a snifter of the strong drink there.

Anti but alcohol

A new exhibition on Baumana Street coquettishly headlined Anti-Alcohol Moonshine Museum opened on 21 March. Thousands of things linked to history, production and consumption of that strong drink occupy two small halls waiting for visitors. Paintings of Catherina the Great and Peter the Great, figures of Oprichniks break the interior. They couldn't help but have the leader of the proletariat full height.

The mastermind of the museum, who is simply indispensable now, told journalists about the new place in Kazan one day before. Charismatic Yury Kruglov with a loud trained voice is probably the main gimmick of the moonshine house. Right his book He is Moonshine is the basis of the exhibition's concept. By the way, he generously signed and presented the book to all people who wished to get it.

Very Yury Kruglov calls Anti-Alcohol Moonshine Museum a museum of art explaining that it's not compulsory to drink alcohol and even undesirable.

Charismatic Yury Kruglov with a loud trained voice is probably the main gimmick of the moonshine home. Photo: rt.rbc.ru

He visited all halls of the exhibition for just 20 minutes and pathetically started to tell next to an old distillation unit: ''Ancient Aryans poured holy Soma to God Agni's altar 30 centuries ago. And Soma was burning with blue flame…'' He concluded that Soma was a prototype of moonshine. Then he drew attention to Alembic – a device for distillation of spirit that was created by Arabs in the 5-6 th centuries – and switched to ancient Scythians who distilled milk and got an alcoholic product. Here Kruglov reminded that many nomadic tribes conserved the tradition of arak production – a vodka made of mare milk. Then he showed a leather bag for kumis hanging on the wall.

We won't divest the guide of his bread and notice that later alluding to the exhibits, he told the visitors about alcoholic drinks from the era of Dmitry Donskoy to Vladimir Lenin, who was represented full height, and Soviet feasts.

More than 10,000 exhibits and years taken to collect them

After the excursion ended, Kruglov told that private collectors across the Volga that had original moonshine production centres helped to collect the museum's exposition.

''Let's remember that Makariev Fair, Nizhny Novgorod Fair, Saratov Fair – the biggest Volga cities – were active consumers and producers of moonshine. And Kazan is an adornment of the Volga, the Volga capital. This is why it's the best place for the museum because it reflects the original tradition of history, ethnography and culture,'' Kruglov vividly replied to Realnoe Vremya's correspondent who asked to enumerate those moonshine production centres.

Kurglov calls the excursion elimination of illiteracy and noticed that its topics would expand further on

The museum has a total of 10,000 exhibits that had being collected for more than a year. But it wasn't possible exhibit everything – the museum's area isn't enough for it. But the creators plan to expand it.

He calls the excursion elimination of illiteracy and noticed that its topics would expand further on. Several people whom the organisers taught will hold excursions besides Kruglov. A search of a guide in English – for the Football World Cup – is discussed now as well. The museum's organisers avoid the financial aspect and offer to talk about it later.

Drinking in an educated way isn't against the law

Now museum visitors are offered two tickets – usual for 300 rubles and 1,000 rubles – with degustation. Iman Islamic Culture Centre has already opposed it and said the establishment that would popularise drinking of alcoholic drinks and degustations can't perform an educational function.

Nevertheless, it was decided to hold degustation. And they are held in a special room to all people's favourite Soviet films, for instance, Operation Y. The very alcoholic drinks are brought from a small factory in Krasnodar Krai. Meanwhile, one doesn't need to drink too much moonshine. Instead, the museum's employees will tell how to distinguish this beverage and do it correctly, while the key word is ''education'', to consume.

Now museum visitors are offered two tickets – usual for 300 rubles and 1,000 rubles – with degustation

By the way, Minister of Culture of the Republic of Tatarstan Ayrat Sibagatullin was among the people who visited the museum before its opening. But he didn't walk with the crowd of listeners but quickly looked the exhibition over and got presents from its organisers, Yury Kruglov's book was among them, and disappeared as quickly as he appeared.

According to the museum's director Olga Marshalkovskaya, the minister liked the exhibition and promised to come once again – the organisers are going to hold a separate excursion for him.

By Maria Gorozhaninova
Tatarstan