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Ukraine designates prominent Georgian winemakers as 'international sponsors of war'

by Nate Ostiller November 9, 2023 4:42 PM 2 min read
A picture taken on April 13, 2016 shows bottles of Georgian wine on a shelf in Moscow's Aragvi restaurant. (Alexander Nemenov/AFP via Getty Images)
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Ukraine's National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NACP) added several leading Georgian winemakers to its list of "international sponsors of war" for their continued business with Russia, the agency's press service announced on Nov. 9.

Among the companies added was the Bolero Group, one of Georgia's largest winemakers, which "process(es) more than half of the grapes grown in Georgia," according to the company's website.

Bolero Group's president is Vakhtang Karichashvili, a Russian citizen and business partner of the cousin of Bidzina Ivanishvili, a former prime minister of Georgia and the country's wealthiest oligarch.

The NACP noted that Bolero Group's own financial reports show that "a significant portion of the company’s revenue is generated by sales in the Russian market."

"Between January 2022 and October 2023, (Bolero Group's companies) exported more than $68 million worth of goods to Russia."

In total, the NACP said that imports of Georgian wine to Russia increased by almost 50% in the first quarter of 2023.

Bolero Group also does business and is otherwise cooperating with sanctioned Russian officials, the NACP claimed.

Although polls have shown that the Georgian population is strongly supportive of Ukraine, in favor of joining the European Union, and considers Russia to be a threat, there are still considerable business connections between Georgia and Russia.

The ruling Georgian Dream party, under the leadership of Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, has also neglected to take a strong stance against Russia, refraining from joining sanctions or other efforts to isolate the country following its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The "international sponsor of war" title is designed to be "a powerful reputational tool," the NACP explains on its website.

The NACP aims to encourage the exit of international business from Russia, reducing the country's "financial and technological ability to kill Ukrainians."

It has added numerous well-known Western businesses to the list, including PepsiCO, Bacardi, Mars, Proctor & Gamble, Nestle, and many others.

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