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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Georgian, Moldovan Wines Banned

The government banned imports of wine from Moldova and Georgia after alleging it was not fit for consumption in the latest trade spat.

The nation's chief public health official, Gennady Onishchenko, signed a letter on March 25 asking the head of the customs service not to allow wine from either country into Russia. Hundreds of railcars laden with bottles have been halted at the border, Moldovan Economy Minister Valery Lazar said.

"This will hit the pockets of our producers very hard," Lazar said Thursday in Moscow. Moldovan wine exports to Russia totaled $208 million last year, he said. "For Russia that's just pennies, but for us it's a lot.''

Moscow is trying to exert economic influence on the region in the way Russia used to wield political power, economists said. Georgia and Moldova, like Ukraine, have sought to loosen ties with Russia and join the EU. All three countries had their gas supplies from Russia cut off this year for a brief period.