Thursday, April 27, 2006

They'll drink anything 

Ran across a very humorous story starting out of something serious. About a month ago the Russian government imposed a ban on Georgian and Moldovan wines. Both former Soviet republics make very good wine that you can buy here in the States. (I have a bottle of Georgian on the rack here at the Scholars' library.) Being close neighbors, the ban really hurts the two countries; Georgia exported 60% of its wine to Russia last year.

The Georgians have taken this very seriously and put a former defense minister, Irakli Okruashvili, in charge of negotiating with Russia and finding new markets for their wine. But the Russians have been busy imposing embargos around many goods, in part thinking the rest of the world was pawning off their bad products on Russians too new to open markets to know they're buying dreck. Okruashvili arrived in Kyiv, Ukraine, trying to sell his wine there with new tests of the wine's quality run in France. Across the border in Moscow, on a TV station that reaches Kyiv, a story was run that went like this (thanks to Johnson's Russia List for the translation):
[Okruashvili] made public what was known a long time ago - the majority of producers were sending bootlegged beverages to Russia, which was in fact the reason for imposing a ban on the import of Georgian wines [into Russia]. By saying this, the military commander did not mince his words.

[Irakli Okruashvili, Georgian defence minister shown speaking on Georgian TV, Russian voice-over] By cheating, the majority of Georgian winemakers tried to conquer the Russian market and bring in wine that could not be sold in Europe, because in Russia one could even sell - excuse me for this expression - excrement. We will now have to export better quality wine to Europe.

[Presenter] Okruashvili is currently in Kiev promoting Georgian wine.
Not saying which side is true, but the timing of that to his trip to Ukraine is priceless.