Vodka prices rise to fight alcoholism and black marketeering

The New Year has brought a price rise for vodka in Russia - with the imposition of a minimum price of 89 rubles, or about three dollars, for half a liter.

Experts from the Federal service of alcohol market regulation estimated that 60 per cent of the vodka sold comes in half-liter bottles.

The new law also targets illegal production, outlawing bootleg vodka, which can be as cheap as 40 rubles a bottle.

The measure will “deprive the shadow produce of its main advantage – its low price – and will lead to a rise in budget income,” Dmitry Dobrov of the Alcohol Producers’ Union was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying.

However, raising the price alone is not enough to combat the illegal vodka market in Russia. Tougher responsibility for illegal alcohol production and sale, changes in excise tax procedure and other measures are needed, Dobrov added.

Experts believe the black market accounts for up to half of all vodka production in Russia.