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Export of Georgian wine to Russia down by 27% yoy in July — National Wine Agency

Due to apprehensions that Russia may introduce sanctions on Georgian wine imports, Georgian winemakers may cut the purchasing of grapes

TBILISI, August 15. /TASS/. Georgia exported more than 3.5 mln bottles of wine to Russia in July, which is 27% less than in July 2018, the press service of the National Wine Agency reported on Thursday.

"Georgia exported 4,522,250 bottles of wine to Russia in May, 4,209,866 bottles in June and the exports decreased to 3,550,264 bottles in July, which is 27% lower than the export index for July 2018, 28% lower than in May 2019 and 18% less than the data of June 2019," the agency said.

"Following the political events of summer 2019, the decline in exports to the largest export market for Georgian wine, Russia, and Russia's possible imposition of sanctions on Georgian wine imports prompted expectations that the demand of winemakers for buying grapes would decline in this year's vintage. Producers say they will deliver fewer grapes than planned, as they may have problems selling wine," Levan Mekhuzla, head of the National Wine Agency, said.

Anti-Russian provocations and flight ban 

On June 20, 2019, several thousand protesters amassed near the national parliament in downtown Tbilisi, demanding the resignation of the interior minister and the parliament’s speaker, and tried to storm it. The protests were sparked by an uproar over the Russian delegation’s participation in the 26th session of the Inter-parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (IAO). On June 20, IAO President Sergei Gavrilov opened the session in the Georgian parliament. Opposition lawmakers were outraged by the fact that Gavrilov addressed the event’s participants from the parliament speaker’s seat. In protest, they did not allow the IAO session to continue. Shortly after the turmoil in Tbilisi, Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili branded Russia an enemy and an occupier on her Facebook page, but later on said that nothing threatened Russian tourists in the country.

To ensure Russian citizens’ safety, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree, which imposed a temporary ban on passenger flights to Georgia from July 8.

The day before the temporary ban on flight came into effect, Georgia’s Rustavi-2 TV anchor Georgy Gabunia used foul language to scold the Russian leadership for more than a minute in his TV program.

Russia’s State Duma (the lower house of parliament) passed a statement condemning the recent anti-Russian provocations staged in Georgia and suggesting that the Russian government respond with economic measures. Meanwhile, Putin said that he wouldn’t impose sanctions against Tbilisi out of respect for the Georgian people.