The Russian alcohol regulatory agency expects amendments to a law on alcohol production and sale will be adopted before the end of 2010, banning sales of hard liquor at night.
The Russian government approved amendments in June to the federal law on state regulation of alcohol production and trade, but said that the amendment needed to be further developed.
"They [the amendments] were not aimed at a night ban [on the sales]," the agency's representative said. "We developed them and forwarded them again, but we don't know if the government is satisfied with them," he continued.
"If the bill is approved in full, then it can be introduced at an autumn session of the State Duma and, hopefully, adopted before the New Year," the spokesman said.
Earlier this month the Moscow city authorities shortened the period during which shops may sell hard liquor in line with a Kremlin-led campaign to crack down on alcohol abuse.
Currently, Muscovites are not allowed to buy alcohol from 11:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. The new rules, extending the period by three hours, will come into force in September.
The document also bans prefectures from issuing permits to sell alcohol round-the-clock in local shops.
Beer, wine and bottled alcoholic "light" cocktails with no more than 15% alcohol content are not affected by the new law. Restaurants and nightclubs are also not affected by the new law and may serve alcoholic beverages 24 hours a day.
The Russian government has declared an anti-alcohol campaign and aims to halve consumption by 2020 and root out illegal production and sales. However, one in four Russians believes no measures taken to fight alcohol abuse will be effective.
In April 2010, the Moscow Region authorities banned alcohol sales from 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 a.m. However, there is no nationwide legislation on the issue in Russia, and in many other regions alcohol is still available 24 hours a day.
Official statistics in Russia show more than 23,000 people die of alcohol poisoning annually. In an effort to fight bootlegging, Russia introduced a minimum price for vodka on January 1.
Alcohol consumption in Russia per capita is currently about 18 liters a year, twice the critical norm set by the World Health Organization.
MOSCOW, August 31 (RIA Novosti)