2 Jan 2010

Russia sets minimum price on vodka

8:48 am on 2 January 2010

Russia is imposing a minimum price on vodka as part of a campaign by President Dmitry Medvedev to reduce alcoholism.

From 1 January, the cost of a half-litre bottle will be at least 89 roubles (about $US3).

But the BBC reports, the move could encourage the sale of bootleg vodka. At present, bootleg vodka is available at around 40 roubles per half litre.

Russians drink seriously. As a country they get through on average about 18 litres of pure alcohol a year.

Mr Medvedev calls the problem a "national disgrace" and is determined to cut that figure by a quarter by 2012.

The last time anyone tried was 24 years ago, when Russia was part of the Soviet Union when Mikhail Gorbachev drastically cut vodka production and did not allow it to be sold before 2pm.

However, state revenue took a massive hit and so did Mr Gorbachev's popularity.