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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 November, 2003, 16:04 GMT
Russian dies after vodka contest
Bottles of vodka
Russia has one of the world's highest alcohol consumption rates
Organisers of a vodka-drinking contest in Russia are facing manslaughter charges after the unlucky winner died of alcohol poisoning within minutes.

Five other contestants ended up in intensive care after drinking heavily in the competition at a bar in the southern town of Volgodonsk.

Prosecutors said the unnamed winner, who had drained three half-litre glasses, died 20 minutes later.

If he had survived, he would have won a further 10 bottles of vodka.

Drinking marathon

Participants in the contest were supplied with half-litre glasses and invited to scoop up vodka from buckets filled to the brim with the drink.

They were also provided with rye bread, sausage and mustard to help the spirit go down more easily.

After the death of the winner, Volgodonsk prosecutors charged the organisers not only with involuntary homicide, but also with breaking a Russian law that forbids the staging of events promoting alcohol consumption.

Russians are among the heaviest drinkers in the world, consuming an average of 15 litres of alcohol per head per year.

In 2002, more than 40,000 Russians died from alcohol poisoning.

Some experts estimate that one in seven Russians is an alcoholic.

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