The state-owned alcohol producer in Russia is looking to produce a cheap vodka for the country, according to local reports.

Speaking to the Echo of Moscow radio station cited a spokesperson for Rosspirtprom yesterday (21 November) saying that the 'people's vodka' will be cheap, but safe.

Dmitry Dobrov, the head of Rosspirtprom's information department, told the radio station that the spirit will retail for around RUB60 (US$3) per half-litre bottle.

"The price of a vodka bottle at a distillery will make up RUB53," he told the radio station. "It will include a prime cost and taxes. Rosspirtprom will get no revenue from this project."

Russia has seen scores of deaths in recent weeks from alcohol poisoning as drinkers die from liver failure after drinking bootleg vodka often laced with industrial solvent.

Fourteen towns in the Irkutsk region of Siberia have declared a state of emergency, amid an upsurge in mass poisonings caused by the fake vodka. In the Orenburg region, 22 people died of alcohol-induced hepatitis in October.

Earlier this month, Gennady Onishchenko, who heads Russia's Federal Consumer Protection Service, claimed that the recent wave of alcohol-related health problems was a coordinated campaign by bootleggers aimed at disrupting a crackdown on the sale of illegal alcohol.

Little can be done to stop the demand for such products, however, since many poor people can afford little else, Onishchenko added. "The people who are getting poisoned have below-average incomes. Most of them are alcoholics and will keep on drinking."