Tax official Vladimir Samoylenko says almost half of the alcohol consumed in Russia is produced illegally. Moonshine vodka, he told a meeting on intellectual property rights, caused 6,000 deaths in January and February of 2000. The International Family Research Institute in Moscow, reporting the results of a three-year study, says that two-thirds of the men in Moscow who die between the ages of 20 and 55 are drunk at the time of death. Booze, legal or illegal, is an important cause of Russia’s population decline. There were nearly 600,000 deaths in Russia in the first four months of this year, and only around 300,000 births. If current trends persist–as they almost surely will in the short term–Russia’s population will fall from around 145 million today to about 100 million in 2025.