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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Saakashvili Serves Fake Wine to Cabinet

MTRoman Dobrokhotov drinking Borjomi during a protest Thursday outside the Federal Consumer Protection Service.
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili on Wednesday served wine to Cabinet ministers -- but not with the intent of making them feel good. The wine that Saakashvili served consisted of several varieties of foreign counterfeits of Georgian wine.

The president chastised ministers for not assertively promoting Georgia's wine abroad, thereby allowing bogus brands to take a share of the market. Georgian wine has a high reputation in Europe, and consumers looking for a low-cost but tasty bottle often are duped into buying fakes.

He noted that many other countries had been more successful in exporting wine than Georgia had been.

"While the Agricultural Ministry is asleep, while the majority of our wine producers are asleep, Spanish, Bulgarian, Lithuanian and Czech wine producers ... successfully tap markets," Saakashvili said.

"Let them [wine producers] rise from their chairs, take our wine and carry it to the Baltic States, Poland and Ukraine," he said.

Russia banned Georgian wine imports last month, claiming pesticides and heavy metals had been found. Last week, Russia also banned Georgia's trademark mineral water Borjomi, which has long been popular among Russians both as a beverage as well as medication.

On Thursday, five members of youth organizations staged a protest they called "Drink Some Poison" in front of the Federal Consumer Protection Service headquarters, the state agency that introduced the ban.

The five protesters were sampling Borjomi mineral water before being taken away by police for not obtaining the necessary permit.

(AP, MT)