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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Illicit Liquor Kills 54

MOSCOW -- At least 54 people have died of poisoning so far this year after drinking bootleg vodka in Russia's Asian region of Tuva, officials said Friday.

The government of Tuva, which borders on Mongolia, said the situation with illicit vodka in the republic was "catastrophic."

Criminals are making enormous profits from the sale of illicit and fbootleg vodka and their bosses are "seriously aspiring to take power" in certain provinces of Tuva, it said, according to Itar-Tass.

Tuva President Sherig-ool Oorzhak has ordered a new licensing of vodka traders and sent top government officials to border crossings so as to stop the influx of illicit alcohol, the report said.