Fighting Spirits

ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP

ON THE ROCKS: The Russian government has attempted to renationalize 17 vodka brands

The Kremlin has cause to celebrate: last month the United States recognized Russia as a market economy, not long after the European Union made a similar acknowledgment. Those decisions boosted Russia's drive to join the World Trade Organization and attract sorely needed foreign capital. But while Russia may toast itself with champagne, the U.S. and the E.U. may have to forgo toasting with Stolichnaya, the highly successful brand of Russian vodka. The Russian state is attempting to nationalize Sojuzplodimport (SPI), the private company that holds exclusive export rights to the world's most popular vodka brand and sends abroad 25 million liters...

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