Sales of hard liquor in Russia - including the staple vodka - have slid in the first eight months of 2006, according to recent figures.

The country's Federal State Statistics Service said yesterday (3 October) that sales of strong spirits between January and August were down by 3.2% on the corresponding period a year earlier, coming in at 13.9m hectolitres. Production of vodka and other spirits in Russia plunged in the same period, by 14.6% year-on-year, as the mishandling of the new excise stamps took its toll.

According to the service, beer benefited from spirits' travails, with sales in the sector rising by 12.6% in the period to 68.7m hectolitres. Wine slid by 5.2% to 5.2m hectolitres, although sparkling wine was up by 6.1% to 1.3m hectolitres.

New laws were implemented in Russia from 1 July this year, aimed at reducing the amount of bootleg alcohol in the domestic market. New excise stamps were introduced, while a network software database was set up to handle the production and movement of alcohol in the country.

An insufficient number of excise stamps and glitches in the software led to domestic alcohol production reportedly grinding to a halt for a time, and sales of imported alcohol being suspended.