"Today, Russia doesn't look better or worse than the rest of the world," Evgeny Bryun, Moscow's chief physician, said this week.
Despite statistics that prove otherwise, Bryun said the image of the average Russian man as a vodka-swilling beer lover was simply a myth.
Russians only seriously began drinking after the end of the Second World War – and the party just lasted too long, he said.
"Soldiers got used to drinking at the front, they celebrated the victory, and this celebration lasted for a very long time," Bryun said.
Bryun's flippant comments stand in stark contrast to a state report released last year that documented a sharp rise in Russians' alcohol consumption.
The average Russian now drinks 15 litres of alcohol per year – up from 5.4 litres in 1990, the report by Russia's chief physician, Gennady Onishchenko, found.
In contrast, Brits drink an average of 11.2 litres per year and Americans take in 8.4 litres.
Alcohol causes one in eight deaths in Russia, and contributes heavily to the country's startlingly high mortality rates for men. The average Russian man only lives to the age of 61, while women, whose drinking is on the upswing according to the report, live til 74 on average.
That study found that 1.5 percent of Russia's population can be considered alcoholics, but Bryun himself said the number was likely higher.
Two per cent of the Moscow population could be considered alcoholics, he said, while 10 per cent indulged in drink every day, but hadn't been diagnosed with having a problem.
Drinking often gets worse over Russia's New Year holiday, which lasts a whopping ten days and sees the country shuts down completely. Stock markets are closed, no newspapers are published. Yet most liquor shops remain open, where a bottle of vodka can be found for as little as £1.
Russia's leadership has launched many attempts to cut down on drinking, but always with limited success. As president, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin sharply raised tariffs on imported alcohol and decried the effects of drinking while promoting a healthy lifestyle. But cheap domestic brands are plentiful, and those who can't afford £1 vodka or beer for 50p often turn to homemade spirits, or even cleaning liquids and shoe polish, to quench their thirst, leading to hundreds of deaths per year.
The situation usually gets worse in winter, with the blistering cold and lack of daylight.
One of President Dmitry Medvedev's moves in the New Year was the official creation of a new federal agency to regulate the alcohol market and forge a national anti-alcoholism policy.
Some politicians have begun warning that drinking could rise sharply as Russia lives through its worst economic crisis in a decade.
"The problems in the economy will be serious, they've already begun, and people have started to drink. And the scariest thing is that they're not drinking quality alcohol, but (alcohol-based) essences," said Larisa Ponomareva, a deputy in Russia's upper house of parliament.