Reports from within Russia have once more cast doubt over the future of the ownership of Stolichnaya vodka.

According to Interfax, the East European press service, the Russian government is once again "set on returning into its own hands the trademarks of such popular vodka brands such as Stolichnaya, Moskovskaya, Russkaya and others currently owned by Soyuzplodimport (SPI)".

Sergei Milyutin, head of the press service for the federal state unitary enterprise Rosspirtprom, is reported to have said that the right of SPI to own traditional state vodka brands will be decided in the court.

SPI became the trademark owners to many of the country's leading vodkas in 1998. However, ever since then there have been suggestions that the company acquired the brands at a considerably reduced rate.

And a review last year by the Audit Chamber found discrepancies in the way the brands were privatised.

However, SPI has continued to maintain that it acquired the brands legally and has announced its intentions to defend its rights in court.

A spokesperson for Allied Domecq, the US distributor for Stolichnaya vodka when contacted this week said: "Allied Domecq is not aware of the reports being anymore than rumour at this stage."