Global Voices Online
Sunday, May 7, 2006
Beginning today, Russia has outlawed Georgian sparkling mineral water Borjomi, a health product that many ulcer patients have been relying upon since the Soviet times. Gennady Onishchenko, Russia's chief health inspector, has ordered the ban allegedly due to the discovery of a batch containing fake Borjomi. A few weeks earlier, Onishchenko restricted imports of Georgian (and Moldovan) wine - allegedly on health grounds, too. It is widely believed, however, that the embargo is politically motivated. Both mineral water and wine are Georgia's most famous - and biggest - exports, and the ban is expected to have a severe impact on the country's economy.
LJ user plushev, a Moscow-based radio journalist, has been documenting (RUS) his hunt for the "disappearing" Georgian goods:
April 15, 2006
Aha, in addition to Georgian cognac, I now have to manage to buy a box of Borjomi. Interesting, but it is often recommended by doctors. Now, from the point of view of [the Russian Consumer Goods Inspection], they are killer doctors, definitely. The likes of Onishchenko [Russia’s chief health inspector] work to increase my stocks.
In summer, they'll find harmful substances in Moldovan apples, and towards winter - if the situation doesn't change - in tangerines. Needless to say, apples from Transnistria and tangerines from Abkhazia would be deemed ecologically safe.
altist72: I've been to Ashan [Moscow shopping mall] today: the wines department looks very funny.
prosvet: Hm, don't they sell French wines in Ashan? Also, Vichy St. Yorre is better than Borjomi ;o)
plushev: If I understand it correctly, to compare Vichy and Borjomi is like comparing Chablie and vodka. Besides being two different drinks (Borjomi is a health product, mineral water rich in various salts), they are also in different price categories. [...] I haven't met a single doctor who was recommending Vichy water.
drugoi: I wonder what wine they are serving in Georgian restaurants now? [...]
plushev: Nothing's changed in the restaurants. I suspect that those who've managed to take the wine off their shelves, took it straight to the restaurasnts with substantial discount.
bizam: You are joking, and Borjomi relieves my stomach ache. Nothing but Borjomi. Now all that's left are pills... :-(
azh7: We're fellow victims... Will have to stock up on it today.
bizam: A box won't last long to save me. I need 1-2 liters a day.
azh7: I also drink up to four plastic bottles...
April 18, 2006
Have been to Ashan, pure entertainment, especially in the wines department: my impression is that someone played a wild game of bowling at some shelves - where the Georgian and Moldovan wines used to be. But not just this. There were just two (!) types of Russian wine. [...] Borjomi is still there, but I didn't have space for a whole box, of course, and took only three bottles, just in case.
svetosila: "There were just two (!) types of the Russian wine." I wonder which ones. Maybe there's some homespun truth in their names?
plushev: I was in a hurry, didn't catch the names, sorry.
svetosila: Under these circumstances, it'd be fitting [to have wine] called "Smile" (there used to be such wine or some other alcoholic beverage). I've never had enough courage to try it.
One of the saddest childhood memories - a provincial bookstore where all the shelves are filled with one (AND THE SAME) book.
May 5, 2006
They've done it faster with Borjomi than with cognac. I've managed to buy some, but not much. And today there's nothing left, not in the stores I had time to check in, at least.
But some bootleg [Borjomi] has been delivered to the Echo [of Moscow radio station].
sdanilov: [...] Soon they'll be editing out scenes with Borjomi and Georgian wines from the Soviet movies - as an alien, unfit for our time, form of "product placement."
mcavity: In Krasnodar [...], there's no Georgian but plenty of Abkhaz wine - on the shelves in the "Russia" department - with labels of horrible quality, as if made of torn newspapers. Borjomi is still there.
sivilia_1: [...] What's next? Soon we'll probably be using nothing but Soviet... Russian, that is... stuff, despite its quality, as in the "good" old times.
May 6, 2006
There's still time
Borjomi can still be bought in stores and drugstores, I've stocked up on a few more bottles. [...] It's interesting, by the way, that even at the time of worsening of the relations with Latvia, [the Russian Consumer Goods Inspection] didn't think of [Latvian] sprats.
ailon: Latvian economy wouldn't have been affected by a sprats import ban as much as the Georgian economy is affected by the wine and Borjomi ban.