Russia's consumer protection agency announces "strengthening of control" over Georgian wine

Georgian alcoholic drinks will be subjected to "strengthened control" by Russia's consumer protection agency in a move that follows political protest in Tbilisi against the occupation of Georgia's regions by Russian troops. Photo: Nino Alavidze/, 24 Jun 2019 - 16:07, Tbilisi,Georgia

Russia's Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing has announced a "strengthening of control" over alcoholic drinks imported from Georgia, in a move reminiscent of a 2006 embargo on wine from the country.

Coming in the wake of political tensions in Georgia following an appearance of Russian Sate Duma MP in the Tbilisi parliament last week, the announcement of the Rospotrebnadzor agency was released on Monday.

In the announcement, the state organisation claimed it had traced a trend showing a worsening of quality of Georgian wine imported into Russia between 2014-2018.

The quantity of Georgian-produced alcoholic drinks that was identified as incompliant with mandatory requirements increased by 2.9 and amounted to 203 thousand litres in 2018 [...] all batches of the indicated products were prohibited from entering the territory of the Russian Federation," the consumer agency said.

The increased control over beverages entering Russia from Georgia would scrutinise "quality and safety" of the products, the announcement also read.

Russia banned wines from Georgia from entering the country's market in 2006, with Gennadiy Onishchenko, the Chief Sanitary Inspector of the state, citing "high amount of pesticides" in the products for the embargo.

The move hit the Georgian exports, with 2005 figures for wine sent to Russia halved after the ban, which was only lifted in 2013.

Georgian government began looking for alternative markets in the aftermath for its alcohol exports - a major element of Georgian external trade - following the incident.

The June 24 announcement follows protests in Tbilisi against Russian occupation of two of the country's regions following the 2008 war between the states.

The protests were sparked by an address to the Parliament of Georgia by Russian Duma MP Sergey Gavrilov, who headed the Russian delegation to the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy in the Georgian capital.

Gavrilov took the seat of the Georgian parliament speaker for his address, which sparked fury of opposition MPs and later thousands of citizens of the country on the backdrop of the ongoing occupation of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) by Russian troops.

Russian officials called for boycott of Georgian resorts and trade goods in the wake of the protests - called "Russophobic" by Duma MPs - while president Putin suspended flights to Georgia starting July 8.