General Anatoly Nogovitsyn answers directly to the most powerful man in Russia, Vladimir Putin. We have arranged an interview with the General in his offices deep within the hallowed halls of the Kremlin.
The high ranking General is the man who presses the red button that can bring about the total annihilation of every living creature on earth 10,000 times over.
We are here on this clandestine mission to talk about the General’s favourite vodka. I mean who else to ask about vodka than the highest ranking General in Russia?
In Russia, it is perfectly acceptable to be totally drunk pretty much all the time. Being employed in a high risk job is no constraint to the pleasures of pickling your liver with vast amounts of vodka every day.
Flying in to Moscow this morning on Aeroflot, half the flight crew were so pissed that they could barely push the trolleys along the aisles and the captain coming over the tannoy was so sloshed he forgot which city we were landing at.
Nuclear 12th Main Directorate of the Defence Ministry
It is then no surprise that General Anatoly Nogovitsyn greets us in his office with a few remnants of upchuck still trickling down his collar and over his medals.
I’ve seen some drunks in my time having been in the reporting business for thirty years, however, coming to Russia makes what I’ve seen look like child’s play.
It takes a true connoisseur to know their Pyatizvyozdnaya from their Belenkaya, and by Jove the General knocks back a gallon or two of each without even a whisper of discomfort let alone a violent grunt as is customary amongst seasoned alcoholics.
“In Russia we have a saying ‘Why drink water when you can drink Vodka?'” the General retorts as he knocks back the pitcher of Kubanskaya he’s got stashed away in a cabinet under his desk.
“We have many nuclear missiles in Russia, they are kept in old Cold War era silos and are not even guarded any more. Who is to say that one day an electrical fault occurs in one of the launching mechanisms which are not maintained because of underfunding from the Kremlin. Who is to say that Poland or Georgia is not wiped off the face of the earth? Who is to say that I do not order an attack on Poland tomorrow and start World War III?”
I ask the General what he thinks about Poland allowing the new US missile shield to be built on their territory.
The General stands up immediately and utters a large vodka burp, he marches to a file cabinet behind his desk and opens it taking out a bottle of Żubrówka.
“This is Polish vodka, it taste like piss water. You taste?” he asks visibly angry.
I decline the offer so the General glugs the lot down in one go, then displays his displeasure of Polish vodka by throwing the empty bottle out the fourth floor window.
What about Warrington’s finest? No, we’re not talking about the tax dodging junk food swilling junkie Kerry Katatonic, we’re talking about Vladivar, an originally brewed vodka from the UK.
The General takes a sniff at the triple distilled British brew, takes a firm gulp then spits the lot out over me.
“Do not give me water again! The English call this vodka? By the testicles of St. Seraphim I have never tasted such putrid water.”
The Russian General then smashes the British distilled vodka bottle over his attaché cum translator who cowers in the corner at all times throughout the interview.
We leave the interview in fear for our lives as the General stumbles around his office looking for his Kalashnikov.
The security of Russian nuclear stocks has been a constant international headache since the demise of the Soviet Union. In 1997, the late general Alexander Lebed, an esteemed vodka connoisseur, surprised and alarmed the world when he announced that Moscow had lost track of more than 100 suitcase-sized nuclear weapons.