A drinks industry body is predicting an increase in the legal hard liquor market in Russia of 20% in 2005.

Chairman of the National Alcohol Association, Pavel Shapkin, told a conference Friday that growth of that kind would be possible if a bill on state regulation of production and sales of alcoholic products comes into force on January 1, 2005.
The State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament, is to consider the bill on its second reading in December.

Growth this year in the spirits market is epected to remain flat.

These forecasts are made on the assumption that Russia's excise taxes remain at their current levels, he said.