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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yeltsin Signs Decree Monopolizing Alcohol

The Russian government said Tuesday that it would impose a state monopoly on the production and sale of alcohol from Nov. 1.

From that date, strong liquor can only be produced or distributed on a quota basis by state organizations or enterprises in which the state holds a controlling stake, said a decree signed Tuesday by President Boris Yeltsin.

Russia's alcohol industry is one of the most profitable in the country, but it is plagued by a large amount of illegal liquor that often contains harmful methyl alcohol.

The government has played down the financial side of introducing the alcohol monopoly, insisting the main objective of the move is to rid the market of illegal f and often dangerous f counterfeit products.

But government leaders have said counterfeit products last year robbed the federal budget of more than 30 billion rubles ($1.9 billion) in tax revenues.

Russia, which has a population of about 150 million, last year consumed 2.15 billion liters of hard liquor. But of this, only 860 million liters were legally produced or imported into Russia.

The decree also formally orders a number of government bodies, including the State Tax Service and a whole series of government ministries, to develop regulations to license and control the alcohol trade.

The alcohol monopoly affects beverages with an alcohol content of 28 percent or more, but the government has also promised to increase controls on low-alcohol products as well.