Ukraine's emergency situations minister is blaming alcohol for most of the country's weather-related deaths this winter. Besides the debt crisis in the EU, the big pan-European news of late has been the particularly cold and particularly snowy winter in Eastern Europe, which has resulted in "at least 250 people" dead according to CNN, with Ukraine experiencing the most deaths at 135. That has government ministers trying to explain the deaths: "The main reason for the deaths is alcohol abuse," one government official told the AFP, with another named Viktor Baloga, head of Ukraine's emergency situations ministry, reiterating that claim to CNN.

While it's well known that in despite of that fire-in-the-stomach feeling a shot of liquor gives, cold and alcohol do not mix, CNN's report points less at alcohol and more to Ukraine's homelessness problem as the reason for the deaths. "The majority of the deaths were in Eastern Ukraine, the region with the highest unemployment rate."

We're inclined to agree with CNN after reading some of government's advice on how to deal with the cold. "You need to get up in the morning, take active exercise and work," Baloga said according to the BCC, adding that Ukrainians ought to "run 8-10km every morning and bathe in cold water, all year round." As for what's causing the unseasonal cold, BoingBoing has a nice explainer today, noting that It's due to "natural variations in the air currents over the Arctic" that may or may not be caused by climate change.