Originally created 10/24/98

Russia to increase vodka production



MOSCOW -- Russia will increase vodka production by 60 percent next year, an official said Friday.

The Russian government recently announced it would be taking a controlling stake in all 184 Russian distilleries that make pure alcohol -- a key ingredient in vodka -- in an effort to get more tax revenue.

In Soviet times, alcohol taxes made up about 25 percent of the federal budget. Today, officials say the figure is 2 percent to 4 percent. About half the alcohol consumed in Russia -- mostly vodka -- goes untaxed, according to government estimates.

"We will do our best to squeeze what we can out of this industry," Deputy Prime Minister Gennady Kulik told lawmakers from the Agrarian Party.