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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Georgia to Sell Rights to Make Borjomi Water

TBILISI, Georgia -- Georgia said Tuesday that it would sell the rights to produce its distinctive Borjomi mineral water, drunk around Russian dinner tables for decades until Moscow banned it in 2006.

The slightly salty mineral water is not to everyone's taste, but it had been a Russian cultural institution since the country was ruled by the tsars.

Many people swear by it as a hangover cure, and doctors even prescribe it to patients, believing that it has medicinal properties.

Moscow cited health risks when imposing the import ban, but Georgia said it was a move to punish its pro-Western government.

Deputy Economic Development Minister Levan Pateishvili said the conditions for the auction, to be held on March 20, would be published Wednesday.

"A 25-year license for Borjomi will be sold to the bidder offering the highest price and best conditions," Pateishvili said. The minimum bid price will be $8 million.

The current license held by Georgian Glass & Mineral Water expires on March 19, the deadline for new bids.

Before the ban, Russians bought 75 million liters per year.

GG&MW says it restored Borjomi's export potential within two years, finding new export markets elsewhere. But exports have again fallen 30 percent to 40 percent since October 2008 with the onset of the global financial crisis.