You always want to avoid drinking with somebody during the holiday season. Maybe it's that politically incorrect uncle of yours. Or maybe it's a nagging in-law.
The well-known host of a health show on Russian state-run First Channel has another suggestion: shun those whom she calls "people of the Mongoloid race." But it's for their own protection, of course.
The segment, titled "whom not to drink with on New Year's" begins with Yelena Malysheva, host of the program "Live Healthfully," inviting an audience member up on stage.
A man named Shukrat, who identifies himself as an Uzbekistan native, is met with hearty laughter when he explains that he "wouldn't want to drink with the police or the Federal Migration Service."
Then Malysheva gets into the meat of her presentation, noting that Russians are "a white race, a Slavic one " and "now we will talk about what race not to drink with on New Year's."
And just so there are no misunderstandings, she adds, "There is no discrimination here, just an understanding of the physiology that makes every race different."
Shukrat then cuts in, noting that he "grew up in the Soviet Union, so I'm not a nationalist" and "can drink with black people and all people, to be honest."
Malysheva reiterates that "when we talk about who not to drink with this New Year's, we do not mean to cast scorn on anyone. We're talking about the threat to their own health."
She then turns to Dmitry Shubin, a "doctor" on her team and asks him to explain who not to drink with.
"In the interests of safety, one shouldn't drink -- no, not shouldn't but mustn't -- drink with people who come from the Mongoloid race," Shubin says, using a term to describe Asians that can be seen as derogatory. This group, he explains, includes Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, and others in the Russian Far North.
Perhaps worried there may be confusion, Malysheva, using her fingers to press her own eyes together, explains that these "Mongoloids" can be identified by their narrow eyes and round facial features.
Just in case it still isn't clear, she exhibits a slideshow of Asian-looking faces to avoid when in the presence of alcohol.
Shubin then explains the reasoning: Asians have a "genetic defect" that prevents them from properly metabolizing alcohol.
To demonstrate, he gives Shukrat and Malysheva liver-shaped containers, which are each apparently filled with black liquid (they don't actually show what's in Maysheva's container before the experiment). As they both pour alcohol into their respective livers, Shukrat's remains black. Malysheva's becomes clear.
"Mongoloid: people with narrow eyes and crescent-shaped faces -- [for them] alcohol is toxic," Malysheva says, pointing to the fake liver a perplexed-looking Shukrat is holding. "And so the first people you should never drink with on New Year's are representatives of the Mongoloid race. It is bad for them"
Research has shown that some people of East Asian descent -- about one-third according to one expert -- have a gene that causes difficulty in breaking down alcohol that could lead to long-term health consequences.
But doctors don't generally recommend that non-Asians take the matter into their own hands by excluding people of Asian ethnicity from social drinking.
In Russia itself, according to a recent study in "The Lancet" medical journal, a quarter of Russian men die before the age of 55 -- a rate far higher than the rest of Europe. And one of the chief causes is excessive alcohol consumption.
-- Glenn Kates