"The most surprising foreign expression of the prohibitory
impulse came in a decree issued by Czar Nicholas II in
October 1914: from that point forward, it declared, the sale
of vodka was forever banned throughout the Russian Empire.
He may as well have ordered fish to leave the ocean. Within
a year of the decree, a Petrograd newspaper reported that
'tens of thousands of illicit distilleries' had opened for business.
In the United States, however, Nicholas's action was exalted
by a spectrum of drys that ranged from the Women's Christian
Temperance Union to radical elements of the labor movement.
In 1919 the Central Labor Council in Tacoma would even
attribute the success of the Russian Revolution to an unexpected
by product of the czar's ruling: a clearheaded proletariat, no longer befogged by alcohol, was at last able to rise and throw off its chains. This was not entirely fanciful; Lenin himself said that 'to permit the sale of vodka would mean one step back to capitalism.' It wasn't until 1923, six years after the fall of the Czar, that spirits containing more than 20 percent alcohol were again made legal in the Soviet Union."
Excerpted from Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition