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Finns To Halt Liquor Flow From Former Soviet Union

June 5, 1992

HELSINKI, Finland (AP) _ The government on Friday announced it will ban some tourists from bringing alcohol into the country. The move is an attempt to halt wide-scale smuggling from Estonia and Russia.

″It was getting out of hand. We had to do something,″ Police Superintendent Goran Wiksten said. The ban takes effect on June 15.

Alcohol sales in Finland are controlled by a state monopoly, but visitors from the former Soviet republics sell alcohol openly on city streets, said Health Inspector Pentti Karhu.

Officials said the ban applies to visitors who plan to stay less than four days and who arrive by road, rail or sea from countries outside the European Community and the Nordic area. The ban does not apply to airline passengers.

Although Russia tripled its retail price for vodka this week, smuggling is still potentially lucrative. A 15-ounce bottle that sells for 150 rubles, about $1.25, in Moscow can be sold on the streets in Finland for $11. In addition, the profit is in hard currency, rather than in rubles, which are essentially worthless in the West.

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