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Putin Renews Public Beer Drinking Rights

President Vladimir Putin (search) signed off Wednesday on legislation retaining Russians' cherished right to drink beer in public.

The original bill, which Putin sent back to parliament in January for amendments, had proposed draconian measures that would have banned beer consumption in parks, stadiums and public transport.

The planned restrictions were widely unpopular in a country where public beer drinking is widespread; many Russians consider beer an everyday drink and Muscovites (search) can often be seen with a bottle on their way to work.

Brewers feared that the proposals would cut into their sales — a dearth of affordable restaurants in Russia means that 20 percent of the beer they produce is drunk outside.

While the new law retains restrictions on beer sales on public transportation and in cultural and sports buildings, as well as near schools, Vyacheslav Mamontov, head of the Russian brewers' union, welcomed the legislation as taking aim at underage drinkers.

"The variant that the president signed most harmoniously takes into consideration both the interests of brewers the authorities and society as a whole," Mamontov said.