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05.19.2006

You Know Things Are Desperate When...

You know things are desperate when drinking a bottle of wine is a form of civil disobedience. No I'm not talking about the resurfacing of prohibition, I'm talking about the current political blowup surrounding the Russian importation of Georgian (the country, not the state) wine. The short story is that there's a lot of economic maneuvering between the two countries which has turned into a big-time trade dispute over a number of issues including Georgian mineral water as well as Georgian wine.

In their latest move for this chess game of import-export, Russian politicians recently passed a measure outlawing Georgian wine for public health reasons (citing elevated pesticide levels, etc). Thousands of bottles of the wine have been destroyed in response to this measure, and people are starting to get pissed off. Recently a pack of student protesters gathered outside of the Environmental minister's office to drink bottles of wine in protest. 10 of them were arrested. OK so they probably did some shouting, too. But arrested ? If the wine was so dangerous, shouldn't they have been taken to the hospital?

The supreme irony of this story? Guess whose cafeteria continues to serve hundreds of bottles of Georgian wine every day? Apparently the President and the staff at the Kremlin are immune to the effects of the "tainted" wine.

" 'In our supplies no harmful substances or violations of sanitary norms have ever been discovered,' said Viktor Khrechov, a spokesman for the Presidential Property department."

I guess they must have gotten only the good bottles.

Raise a glass tonight for the troubled Georgian and Russian wine lovers. No one should have the wine in their cellar declared a public health hazard.

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