Siberian Police have seized approximately 30,000 bottles of counterfeit vodka worth an estimated 3 million rubles ($90,000), the Russian Interior Ministry reported on its website on Tuesday.
The bottles were seized after a truck was stopped by police in the city of Chita, the capital of the Zabaikalsky Territory in Eastern Siberia. Police believe the truck, a Volvo, arrived in Chita from Ulan-Ude, the capital of the neighboring Republic of Buryatia.
The owner of the fake vodka is believed to be the same man who was arrested in March while trying to bribe police to release bottles of vodka seized in a raid in Zabaikalsky Territory.
The half-liter bottles, labeled Pchenichnaya, bore fake tax stamps. Each bottle cost dealers around 50 rubles ($1.5) and was intended to be sold at double this price on the retail market.
Counterfeit alcohol has been a problem in Russia for decades. Last year, the government launched a reform intended to curb illegal alcohol production, which reduced the number of alcohol producers in Russia by one third.
However, fake alcohol still accounts for between 23 and 37 percent of total market sales, according to conflicting statistics from Russia’s alcohol market watchdog and the federal statistics service. In 2011, Russia’s police seized a total of 305,000 liters of bootleg alcohol.
According to official statistics, some 12,000 people died in Russia last year from counterfeit alcoholic drinks. That figure has been decreasing since 2005, when it stood at 45,000.