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“Rtveli at the barrel” special operation2010-09-07 10:49
Autumn in Georgia is a blessed period of gathering grapes, or Rtveli. This year's battle for harvest is not a pastoral romance with the police forcing wine producers to buy amber berries from farmers at a sacrifice under penalty of administrative punishment. Voice of America radio nicknames such measures "Rtveli-2010 Special Operation".
The Georgian government is torn between pursuit of liberalization policies and a desire to launch populist measures needed to keep people intoxicated by illusionary progress.
It's been two years since Mikheil Saakashvili first announced start on sales of Georgian wine in Europe and America. Very soon, as it seems, wine makers will have no reminders of the lost Russian market.
But if it was true, the wineries would not reject raw materials sold by farmers at giveaway prices. Even well-promoted "Telavi Wine Cellar" is cutting purchases. "Kindzmarauli Wine Cellar" decided to do without the help of the population completely. Some other plants don't just reject new crops: they start open confrontation with the police.
In August Kakheti independent information center reported on the concentration of police force at wineries. Patrols were recommended to set up a 24/7 watch over the plants. Georgi Gviniashvili, the governor of the region, immediately refuted the news. However, a short while later the "Rtveli-2010 special operation" revealed itself as was recently reported by the Voice of America radio station.
The police interfered in order to force wine makers to save farmers from impoverishment at sacrifice. "The statal interests are simple: to minimize discontent among Kakheti farmers and prevent a social revolt", - radio journalists comment on the situation.
As Alconews remarks, the affairs in Georgia's wine industry are not like Kakha Bendukidze predicted in 2006 as state minister then: "It's no problem to have wine making extinct in Georgia. There will be something else". Nothing else has been established yet, while wine making is becoming unprofitable. Like at the time of the Soviet plan-programming economy the state undertakes to fix minimum purchase prices for various sorts of grapes from population and controls acceptance of the new harvest by wineries. And how will it be used if warehouses are full of wines dated 2009 or even 2008?