Until last month (July 20, 2011 to be exact), beer was considered a food. Since beer contains less than 10 percent of alcohol, they didn’t considered it alcohol.
It seems they have now realized it has alcohol enough to cause alcohol related effects. The Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has now signed a bill that has officially classifies beer as an alcoholic drink.
The bill however won’t come in effect until 2013. This was the result of the President’s 2009 order to the government to prepare a draft to control alcohol abuse in Russia.