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Russian authorities seize bootleg vodka _ and proclaim it good

June 6, 1997

MOSCOW (AP) _ Authorities seized 67,000 bottles of illegally produced vodka today _ and proclaimed it so good they may sell it themselves.

The seizure took place in the Ural Mountain city of Chelyabinsk, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency. It was the latest sign of a crackdown on illegal vodka following the moonshine deaths of 22 people in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk last weekend.

ITAR-Tass quoted the chief of the tax police in Chelyabinsk, Anatoly Surkov, as saying his officers seized the fruit-flavored vodka at the railway station, where it had been shipped from Rostov-on-Don.

Surkov said the vodka had been ``produced on the basis of a foreign technology″ _ a technology so successful, apparently, that authorities commented on the high quality of the impounded vodka.

According to ITAR-Tass, the tax officials were considering the possibility of selling the vodka to Chelyabinsk residents, with the revenues going to the local budget. Authorities put the value of the vodka at $260,000.

Much of the illegal vodka sold in Russia is of poor quality, and often poisonous, as buyers learned in Krasnoyarsk. The vodka there was made from methyl alcohol, and was described as tasting like rubber.

Following that tragedy, police in Moscow seized a freight train earlier this week packed with 240,000 bottles of fake vodka made from industrial alcohol.

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