Russia eyes crackdown on duty-free booze after brawls on flights

MOSCOW Mon Feb 4, 2013 4:06pm GMT

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia may soon crack down to stop boozy flights after a spate of brawls involving drunken passengers.

State television on Monday broadcast amateur footage of several drink-soaked punch-ups after a plane made a forced landing in Uzbekistan on the way to Thailand on Sunday because a Russian had attacked other passengers.

The footage included shots of a man butting a steward during one flight and a fight among passengers queuing for the toilet during another. In a third incident, a man was tied to his seat and his mouth taped shut after passengers got fed up with him.

A senior member of the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, said the assembly could soon draw up legislation to ban duty-free liquor and cigarettes being brought on board planes, even in sealed bags.

"We would like to prepare it (the legislation) before the end of this session," Interfax news agency quoted Vitaly Yefimov, the first deputy chairman of the Duma's transport committee, as saying.

"Changes are needed to end such uproar on planes. It's a direct threat to flight security," he said, without giving any other details of the Duma's plans.

Russian television said that only in one recent case had a Russian passenger faced criminal charges for violent behaviour on board a plane. Several others had been fined, it said.

Flights on Russian airlines are generally much more comfortable these days than in Soviet times, when passengers often had to fight their way to the front or back of the plane through thick cigarette smoke.

But alcohol consumption per capita in Russia is the fourth highest in the world, according to World Health organization figures for 2011, and passengers often enjoy an onboard tipple. (Reporting by Timothy Heritage; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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