Russia cut its vodka and hard liquor production by 9% to 122m decalitres in 2000 compared to volumes in 1999, according to the Ethyl Alcohol Producers and Distributors Association.

Vladimir Tsygankov, the Association's chairman, said that production had fallen due to the increase on average of 40% of alcohol excise duties.

He said the "shortsighted excise duty policy" placed legal producers in an unfavourable position in comparison to illegal producers, the Russian Business Monitor reported.

The Monitor went on to report that statistics of alcohol shipments in wholesale and retail trade, taking into account illegal turnover, shows that in 2000 illegal vodka production grew to 50% of overall consumption. In 1999 the figure was closer to 40%.