Russia Works to Stabilize Vodka Prices

Russian Vodka
An employee places a bottle of vodka on a counter during the agro-industrial exhibition "Agrorus" in St. Petersburg. Alexander Demianchuk/Reuters

This week, Russian President Vladimir Putin decided it was time to stabilize a very lucrative in-country market. No, not oil: vodka.

"The overshoot of vodka prices leads only to increasing consumption of bootleg [spirits]. I think the relevant structures [government bodies] should think of that," Putin publicly stated.

Russia is currently on the brink of an economic recession, as the ruble rapidly loses value. The government's set price for vodka has increased by a third since 2013, to 220 rubles (about four U.S. dollars) for half a liter. Inflation has added an additional 9.4 percent this year, making it increasingly difficult for Russians to purchase vodka legally.

While Russians can buy cheap bootleg vodka, which is not regulated by the government, the black market booze can lead to health issues. About 25 percent of Russian men die in their 50s due in part to their "love of alcohol—particularly vodka," Reuters reported. By lowering the shelf price of legal, safe to consume vodka, Putin hopes to curb some health risks (and perhaps win some popularity points with his vodka enthusiast constituents).