Russian PM orders improvement on alcoholic-beverages market

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MOSCOW, July 21 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's prime minister urged ministries Friday to take immediate measures to rectify the situation on the nation's alcoholic-beverages market.

Imported wines and liquors disappeared from store shelves at the beginning of this month as retailers sold off their stocks or returned them to suppliers in keeping with a ban on old excise stamps. The Federal Customs Service had imposed the ban as part of a campaign to squeeze bootleg alcohol out of the market.

Wine imports from the former Soviet republics of Georgia and Moldova were also banned from sale in Russia earlier this year over an alleged failure to meet Russia's hygienic standards.

Mikhail Fradkov ordered Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov to take control over these measures.

Market insiders previously said in the best-case scenario new supplies of imported liquor would start arriving in Russia in mid-August. But in the worst-case scenario, they said, the nation will have to survive on a lean diet of domestically produced vodka and beer through the fall.

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