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Russia: Ban on Georgian Wine and Water

Beginning today, Russia has outlawed Georgian sparkling mineral water Borjomi, a health product that many ulcer patients have been relying upon since the Soviet times. Gennady Onishchenko, Russia's chief health inspector, has ordered the ban allegedly due to the discovery of a batch containing fake Borjomi. A few weeks earlier, Onishchenko restricted imports of Georgian (and Moldovan) wine – allegedly on health grounds, too. It is widely believed, however, that the embargo is politically motivated. Both mineral water and wine are Georgia's most famous – and biggest – exports, and the ban is expected to have a severe impact on the country's economy.

LJ user plushev, a Moscow-based radio journalist, has been documenting (RUS) his hunt for the “disappearing” Georgian goods:

April 15, 2006

plushev:

Disappearing Goods

Aha, in addition to Georgian cognac, I now have to manage to buy a box of Borjomi. Interesting, but it is often recommended by doctors. Now, from the point of view of [the Russian Consumer Goods Inspection], they are killer doctors, definitely. The likes of Onishchenko [Russia’s chief health inspector] work to increase my stocks.

In summer, they'll find harmful substances in Moldovan apples, and towards winter – if the situation doesn't change – in tangerines. Needless to say, apples from Transnistria and tangerines from Abkhazia would be deemed ecologically safe.

***

altist72: I've been to Ashan [Moscow shopping mall] today: the wines department looks very funny.

prosvet: Hm, don't they sell French wines in Ashan? Also, Vichy St. Yorre is better than Borjomi ;o)

[...]

plushev: If I understand it correctly, to compare Vichy and Borjomi is like comparing Chablie and vodka. Besides being two different drinks (Borjomi is a health product, mineral water rich in various salts), they are also in different price categories. [...] I haven't met a single doctor who was recommending Vichy water.

[...]

drugoi: I wonder what wine they are serving in Georgian restaurants now? [...]

plushev: Nothing's changed in the restaurants. I suspect that those who've managed to take the wine off their shelves, took it straight to the restaurasnts with substantial discount.

[...]

bizam: You are joking, and Borjomi relieves my stomach ache. Nothing but Borjomi. Now all that's left are pills… :-(

azh7: We're fellow victims… Will have to stock up on it today.

bizam: A box won't last long to save me. I need 1-2 liters a day.

azh7: I also drink up to four plastic bottles…

April 18, 2006

plushev:

Shopping

Have been to Ashan, pure entertainment, especially in the wines department: my impression is that someone played a wild game of bowling at some shelves – where the Georgian and Moldovan wines used to be. But not just this. There were just two (!) types of Russian wine. [...] Borjomi is still there, but I didn't have space for a whole box, of course, and took only three bottles, just in case.

[...]

***

svetosila: “There were just two (!) types of the Russian wine.” I wonder which ones. Maybe there's some homespun truth in their names?

plushev: I was in a hurry, didn't catch the names, sorry.

[...]

svetosila: Under these circumstances, it'd be fitting [to have wine] called “Smile” (there used to be such wine or some other alcoholic beverage). I've never had enough courage to try it.

One of the saddest childhood memories – a provincial bookstore where all the shelves are filled with one (AND THE SAME) book.

May 5, 2006

plushev:

They've done it faster with Borjomi than with cognac. I've managed to buy some, but not much. And today there's nothing left, not in the stores I had time to check in, at least.

But some bootleg [Borjomi] has been delivered to the Echo [of Moscow radio station].

***

sdanilov: [...] Soon they'll be editing out scenes with Borjomi and Georgian wines from the Soviet movies – as an alien, unfit for our time, form of “product placement.”

[...]

mcavity: In Krasnodar [...], there's no Georgian but plenty of Abkhaz wine – on the shelves in the “Russia” department – with labels of horrible quality, as if made of torn newspapers. Borjomi is still there.

[...]

sivilia_1: [...] What's next? Soon we'll probably be using nothing but Soviet… Russian, that is… stuff, despite its quality, as in the “good” old times.

May 6, 2006

plushev:

There's still time

Borjomi can still be bought in stores and drugstores, I've stocked up on a few more bottles. [...] It's interesting, by the way, that even at the time of worsening of the relations with Latvia, [the Russian Consumer Goods Inspection] didn't think of [Latvian] sprats.

***

ailon: Latvian economy wouldn't have been affected by a sprats import ban as much as the Georgian economy is affected by the wine and Borjomi ban.

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