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Russia's beleaguered mail service plans to keep local post offices open by letting them sell beer.

Among the first to notice the new goods on sale was a caller to a post office in Murmansk Region, in the far north of the country.

"It looked like Russian Post couldn't sink any lower, but it turns out they could," he complained, taking to the social media platform with photos of beer stacked up for sale at the counter.

This left only one cashier position free, which was "already witnessing an involved discussion about bed linen. So now we can expect the local winos to hold things up even more," he lamented about the bottles, priced at up to 135 roubles ($2; £1.60) a piece.

Comments on the VKontakte page also mix exasperation with humour, while some comfort themselves with the thought that at least they "won't get bored in the queue anymore".

Others think it is only a matter of time before the post office starts selling kebabs too. "What about condoms, cigarettes, and a couple of tables in the corner as well?" another user suggests.

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The story quickly made its way to the national media, which found out that the ale sale is not a one-off initiative at all.

The Murmansk post department says 40 of its 152 branches already have "low-alcohol drinks" - meaning no wine or spirits - for sale, in the interest of "increasing the viability of post offices and attracting additional money to modernise the network," according to news agency.

But northerners aren't the only ones who can enjoy a chaser with their stamp purchases. Saratov Region far away to the south has also been experimenting with sales of beer and the fermented bread drink kvass as a way of "keeping unprofitable post offices open", the tabloid reported.

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