Russia continues waging the war against low-quality goods from the former Soviet republic of Georgia. At first Russia banned the import of Georgian wine and mineral water. Now time has come for agricultural goods. The new scandal between Russia and Georgia is gradually taking a political form.
Georgian authorities say that Russian border guards do not let trucks loaded with apples and vegetables cross the border. Dozens of trucks loaded with these goods have been blocked in the so-called neutral zone between the Russian and the Georgian check points for three days already. The drivers do not return to Georgia so far.
“There are 70 trucks with agricultural products, basically apples and vegetables, at the Russian check point,” a spokesman for the Internal Affairs Ministry of Georgia said.
The Surgeon General of Russia, Gennady Onischenko, stated Tuesday that officers of the Russian Service for Consumption Control arrested a batch of Georgian mineral water Nabeglavi which was meant to be put into retails in the Moscow region.
“Over 9,300 bottles or 1,685 liters of this mineral water have been arrested due to the absence of necessary documents to verify the quality of the water,” Onischenko said. Russian experts say that the arrested water was stored under unsatisfactory sanitary requirements.
Gennady Onischenko believes that Russia had to take such actions against Georgia in connection with Russia’s future incorporation into the World Trade Organization.
In the meantime, Georgian authorities described the new standards, which Russia started to practice, as xenophobia.
The chairman of the Committee for International Ties of the Georgian Parliament, Kote Gabashvili, said that the claims of the Russian Service for Consumption Control were based on xenophobia. “Russians have been drinking Georgian mineral water for years, and there were no problems whatsoever,” the official said. “I do not understand these new standards. This is xenophobia, enmity against a certain nation. If we add Russian cafes and restaurants, which do not allow Caucasian nationals in, one can describe the phenomenon as domestic fascism,” Gabashvili said.
The chairman for the Committee for European Integration of the Georgian Parliament, David Bakradze, was more restrained in his statements on the matter. “The Georgian mineral water, particularly Borzhomi, corresponds to all international standards. The water is available in the EU and the USA. I do not think that Russia’s quality standards are higher at this point,” the official said. “This is a political question, a part of a certain political campaign,” Bakradze said.
Russia banned the import of Georgian wine on March 27 of the current year. It was said that a large volume of wine imports from Georgia failed to meet sanitary requirements of the Russian Federation.
Observers believe that Russia had a political background for such decisions: Georgia and Moldavia object to Russia's WTO membership. As a result, Georgia and Moldavia have already lost up to $700 million of profit.
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov
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