Thursday, May 23, 2013

Dugladze Wine Company to be the first to return to Russian wine market

23.05.2013 (Hvino News). Dugladze Wine Company, exporting in particular Saperavi and Khvanchkara wine brands, will be the first Georgian company that will return to the Russian market after an embargo imposed in 2006, the head of the Georgian National Wine Agency, Levan Davitashvili, told the Russian Izvestia daily on Wednesday.

“The Russian Federal Customs Service has accepted the application of that company” which means exports may begin within the next two weeks, Davitashvili said without concealing his joy. This is the precedent that other Georgian companies seeking to return to the Russian market have been waiting for, he said.

“Dugladze Wine Company was set up in 2004, and was quite actively supplying wines to the Russian market before the embargo was imposed - almost 200,000 bottles a year,” he said. Now the company exports seven wine brands - Saperavi, Khvanchkara, Kindzmarauli, Tsinandali and others - to the United States and Europe. An average export price is four to five dollars per bottle.

“In time we expect to export to Russia our sparkling wines and brandies,” Dugladze’s manager Manana Akhvlediani said.

First batches of Borjomi mineral water from Georgia arrive in Russia

23.05.2013 (Hvino News). After a seven-year embargo, Russia has allowed a shipment of Georgian Borjomi mineral water into the country, a move commentators in Moscow see as a sign that political tensions between the neighboring countries are easing.

Moscow banned imports of Borjomi water, Georgia's third-largest export, in 2006 in response to the policies of then Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, a critic of the Kremlin. The official reason given for the ban was alleged poor hygiene standards.

Two trucks with water from the Georgian spa town were on their way to supermarkets around Moscow, the Russian customs agency said on Wednesday.

"We have delivery contracts with all retail networks in Russia, and at the beginning of June Borjomi will appear on shelves, - IDS Borjomi Russia's general director Alexander Zhadanov said yesterday.

It is expected that Georgian wine, which enjoys a very strong reputation in Russia, also banned in 2006, will be allowed to be imported again soon.

Relations between the two countries have thawed since the victory of Bidsina Ivanishvili in last year's parliamentary elections.

© Hvino News

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

33 Georgian wines received awards of International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC) '2013

22.05.2013 (Hvino News) The results of International Wine & Spirit Competition 2013 have been announced at this week’s London International Wine Fair. Georgian wines have received 33 silver and bronze awards of this prestigious wine contest, which is 9 medals more than in last years's IWSC (24 medals were won by Georgia in 2012).

Among 2013's winners two red wines were awarded with special Silver Outstanding Awards: Marani Kondoli Vineyards Saperavi 2010 and Mossano Teliani Valley Cabernet-Saperavi 2011.

Silver Outstanding Awards:

Awardsort iconProductColourProducer

Marani Kondoli Vineyards Saperavi 2010JSC Telavi Wine Cellar

Mossano Teliani Valley Cabernet-Saperavi 2011Teliani Valley PLC

Silver Awards:

    Georgian National Wine Agency (Interview with Levan Davitashvili)

    22.05.2013. The American Times sits down with Levan Davitashvili, Chairman of the National Wine Agency, to get an understanding of what their function is as the head of Georgia’s most precious commodity and what markets represent opportunities for wine lovers and investors alike.

    What is the role of the National Wine Agency in Georgia?

    The National Wine Agency is a state regulator for the Georgian wine industry and grape production and operates under the Ministry of Agriculture. It’s founding is accorded by Georgian law regarding wine and bottled wine which is rooted in EU wine making standards. Although modern we are currently making amendments to the law in line with EU changes as well as our own specific modifications.

    More specifically we control the stock’s quality, certify products for export and monitor quality in local markets. This encompasses the administrative work the agency conducts. The secondary function is in promoting the Georgian wine industry regionally and throughout the word.

    Since there are so many private producers of wine or very small companies that produce wine, how big of an issue is the quality control?

    Every winemaker needs to be registered with the agency. Regarding exports, the controls are very strict; no wine can enter the export market without checking labels and meeting our standards. Every wine should be traced to the grape it was made from and the vineyards it came from and which harvest yielded the product. As part of those quality control regulations we also administer tasting control. Based on those three parameters we then issue a certificate of origin and certify wine for export.

    Tuesday, May 21, 2013

    Ukrainian media familiarizes with Georgian wines

    21.05.2013. USAID-financed Economic Prosperity Initiative (EPI) organized a tour for Ukrainian journalists to promote wine tourism in the country. A group of 20 journalists from the leading Ukrainian media outlets arrived in Georgia to become familiarized with the country’s potential in the wine tourism industry. The guests are to visit Chateau Mukhrani and major wine tourism destinations in the most famous places of Kakheti. The group will visit wineries producing wine by traditional Georgian methods; later the group will make short documentary films, draft articles and blogs covering their visit to Georgia. This will serve as a good promotion in advertising Georgia’s tourism potential. The group will stay in the country for three days. The information was disseminated by the EPI.


    Sunday, May 19, 2013

    Georgian wine featured at RAW Artisan Wine Fair in London

    by Nino Edilashvili

    19.05.2013. Homemade wine lovers in the UK have an opportunity to taste wine produced in qvevri - traditional Georgian wine making tool. The testing is arranged at the RAW Artisan Wine Fair on May 19-20 in London.

    The Georgian stand at the RAW displays over 150 growers and is sponsored by the Georgian National Wine Agency, a state funded organization responsible for assisting the development of the wine sector and organizing promotional events to increase international awareness.

    Irakli Cholobargia, Director of the Marketing Department of National Wine Agency,  thinks that the interest towards Georgian wine is increasing each year. “The first RAW exhibition was held last year, and our companies participated in it; so this year, the organizers sent invitations again,” he told Georgia Today. “It is a homemade wine exhibition, which means that only small companies can participate; in total we sent 15 varieties of wines from verious wineries including Jakeli wines, Shavnabada Monastry products, Nika’s Wine and Pheasant’s Tears,” he added.

    Saturday, May 18, 2013

    Georgia and its wine

    by Shirley Wade McLoughlin, Associate Professor, Keene State College

    18.05.2013 (Hvino News) Although it may seem an odd topic for this blog, I would be remiss to write about my Fulbright experience in Georgia without mentioning wine. To be sure, in the United States, I enjoyed a nice bottle of chardonnay, but never have I experienced the variety of wines, the passion of the winegrowers, the dominance of the grape in a culture, and the inclusion of this important commodity into so many components of the Georgian way of life.

    When my husband and I first arrived here, we were driven from Tbilisi to Telavi through gray, wintery villages, with hectares of stark grapevines lining nearby vineyards. When we moved into our home in Telavi a few days later, we noted many dark brown, dormant grape vines bordered the yard, as were all our neighbor's homes. As spring came, what a change occurred in the landscape... light purple violas popped up in our yard, pansies appeared in the local parks, villages were no longer dominated by gray, but by the green grass in nearby fields where baby lambs and their mothers romped, by blossoming fruit trees, and by villagers pruning grape vines. Billows of blue smoke could be seen where the villagers sat by the grape vine fires, cooking skewered chunks of pork over the coals of the burning prunings of the grape vines. Georgians insist that the smoke from the grape vines give the skewered barbecued pork a distinctive, delicious flavoring, and I have to agree.

    Friday, May 17, 2013

    Huge success of Georgian wines at Concours Mondial de Bruxelles

    17.05.2013 (Hvino News). Georgian wines have won 10 medals at The Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, which was held on May 10-12 in Bratislava, Slovakia. The winners were announced today. 34 Georgian wines were competing at the contest, which means 1/3 of all presented wines have been awarded. Congratulations with this huge success!

    Among the received awards, there are 3 Grand Gold Medals, awarded to Chateau Mukhrani Reserve Prince 2007, Saperavi Premium by Winery Khareba, and Tamada 2011 by GWS:

    NameMedalCountryAreaAppellationManufacturer / Distributor
    Chateau Mukhrani Reserve
    de Prince 2007
    Large goldGeorgiaKartliJSC Chateau Mukhrani
    Saperavi Premium 2010Large goldGeorgiaKakhetiWinery Khareba
    +995 32 291 59 10
    Tamada 2011Large goldGeorgiaKakhetiMukuzaniGeorgian Wines & Spirits Company Ltd.
    9953 22 20 18 78

    One Gold Medal was awarded to Chateau Mukhrani Rkatsiteli White 2010.

    Chateau Mukhrani Rkatsiteli
    White 2010
    GoldGeorgiaKartliJSC Chateau Mukhrani

    Affairs of the heart at the New Wine Festival (with video)

    by Robert Linkous

    17.05.2013. Early on the morning of Saturday May 11 at the scenic, mountainous Ethnographic Museum over two dozen Georgian wineries and a worthy contingent of producers of homemade wine set up camp, and before long the 4th New Wine Festival was in full swing. Thanks to the Wine Club, the National Wine Agency, and Tbilisi City Hall, admission – and wine! - was free. Does public service get any better than that?

    A grateful, goodly throng of Georgians and foreigners turned out, to bunch around tasting booths and stand shoulder to shoulder before the lengthy barbecue where smoky, savory mtsvadi was being prepared. Served up on a wooden skewer five juicy hunks of meat, each larger than a golf ball, though smaller than a baseball, cost a mere ten Lari.

    Since the major wine companies often show their wines in public venues, the far less common opportunity to sample the homemade wines also added to the Festival’s special appeal. Irakli Sardanashvili, for example, proudly poured a blend of Aleksandrouli (60%) and Mujuretuli (40%), a pleasant, semi-sweet, slightly earthy red sourced from his grandfather’s vineyard in Khvanchkara, while Shota Shavkacishvili was no less keen on his semi-sweet Saperavi from Khashmi, which he vinified in his very old oak barrels. But he plans a switch to qvevris next year, characterizing the difference as between store-bought bread and “bread you make in your own house.”

    Thursday, May 16, 2013

    Askaneli Brothers protest against Russian state agency Rospotrebnadzor (with video)

    16.05.2013 (Hvino News). Georgian wine and spirit producer Askaneli Brothers asks for an explanation from  Russian state agency Rospotrebnadzor regarding its recent statement.

    At today's press conference held at Courtyard Marriott Hotel in Tbilisi, Jimsher Chkhaidze Askaneli, one of the founders of Askaneli Brothers said  the company asked Gennady Onishchenko, Russia’s Chief Sanitary Inspector, to explain the spread information about quality of brandy produced by Askaneli Brothers.

    “Information was spread that Gennady Onishchenko criticized the quality of brandy produced by Askaneli Brothers. It’s obviously a misunderstanding. We are proud of our brandy, which is sold not only in Georgia but in 15 other countries, where it has a state certificates and is very popular among consumers. The brandy has received gold and silver medals for its quality. This is why we immediately addressed Gennady Onishchenko for official explanation. We are waiting for a response, but we are sure that it is a misunderstanding,” - said Jimsher Chkhaidze Askaneli.

    Rospotrebnadzor's experts visited Askaneli Brothers during inspection trip.

    According to Irakli Bekauri, general director of Askaneli Brothers, products given to Rospotrebnadzor underwent three phases of quality control inspection: production process, plant laboratory and independent laboratory.  Samples were taken from the series that are exported to different countries, including EU. We have never been criticized by officials or consumers for brandy  quality so far. However, we are ready to undergo inspection again, and we have mentioned that it in our official letter to Gennady Onishchenko,” he stated.

    Georgian wine industry: recent past and the way forward: Part I

    16.05.2013. We are very happy to host on our blog a commentary by Jacques Fleury, the person behind the resurrection of Borjomi and a key player in the Georgian wine industry.

    Jacques reflects on the experience of surviving the Russian embargo, on the one hand, and dealing with a series of heavy-handed and incompetent government interventions, on the other. In the second part of his comment, to be published next week, Jacques also proposes a new vision for the future of the Georgian wine industry, a future in which the government and the private sector work hand-in-hand to support small vine growers and promote Georgian wines to new markets. In his expert opinion, Georgia has the potential to get on the world wine map given its unique history and existing grape varieties. However, this will not happen without a properly orchestrated marketing communication campaign, which not a single Georgian company can undertake on its own.

    Part A. 2006-2012 – DARK YEARS FOR THE INDUSTRY


    During the last 7 years, the Georgian wine industry, always dependent for 80-90% of its sales on export markets, has been hit by a succession of economic and political disasters.

    Tuesday, May 14, 2013

    Official: Georgia's wine export statistics for April 2013

    14.05.2013 (Hvino News) According to the Georgian National Wine Agency total of 1,689,749 liters of wine (0.75-liter bottled) was exported to 30 countries in April, 2013. The overall export as of April amounts to 5,071,158 liters, being 32% higher vs last year same period.

    Five leading export destinations of Georgian wine are as follows: Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Latvia and Poland, where Ukraine holds 43% of the total volume of exports.

    There was a significant growth of export in Latvia and Poland in April 2013: 38% and 34% respectively vs the same period last year.

    © Hvino News

    Monday, May 13, 2013

    Russia denies registration to five types of Georgian brandy by Askaneli Brothers

    13.05.2013 (Hvino News). Russian sanitary service refused to register five types of Georgian brandy produced by one of the Georgian companies for supply to the Russian market.

    "This is not even a brandy. I would call it a serious call from the past" - said Gennady Onishchenko, chief of Russian sanitary service.

    According to him, Russia's Rospotrebnadzor refused to register five types of brandy presented by Georgian company Askaneli Brothers. At the same time, the state Russian agency has approved nine types of wine from the same manufacturer.

    "While 9 types of their wine have passed through, their brandy was completely rejected. The samples which they provided does not even contain cognac spirits" - said Mr. Onishchenko.

    © Hvino News

    Design bureau Cleassens International to work with Georgian wine producers

    13.05.2013 (Hvino News) The British Georgian Chamber of Commerce (BGCC) arranged a presentation of Cleassens International, a leading UK design agency with over 30 years experience and extensive knowledge of the spirits, wine, brandy/cognac, beer, liqueurs, juice and water markets.

    “Georgian wine is wonderful and of a high quality. Now Georgians need to work how to make it a distinctive, identifiable brand in the international market,” remarked Elena Getman, Cleassens International CIS Operations Director while showcasing world brands and trademarks like Johnnie Walker, Guinness, Bacardi, Gallo, Melini, and Havana Club – all created and developed by Cleassens International. “We strive to provide our clients with outstanding creative and strategic solutions that communicate directly with the consumer and our expertise is founded upon helping to create and develop brands and products that hold a unique identity and are powerful portfolio assets,” said Getman.

    It is of note that the Georgian company Bagrationi already has experience working with Cleassens International as the company’s label has been designed by Cleassens International’s design and trademark specialist. According to Mako Abashidze, BGCC director, another wine company Teliani Valley is also interested in collaboration with Cleassens Internationals.

    Sunday, May 12, 2013

    London to host Georgian festival

    by Nino Edilashvili

    12.05.2013. People in Great Britain tend to love the arts, wine and exploring foreign cultures. So they will have an opportunity to attend a grand festival entitled Georgia-Art in Wine and Wine in Art scheduled from May 6-21 in London.

    Mako Abashidze, Director of the British Georgian Chamber of Commerce (BGCC), the organizer of the festival, says that this event with its “very extraordinary format” will raise awareness of Georgia. “The target group of the festival is the British media and ordinary people who have an interest in Georgia, as well as our Georgian emigrants living in London,” Abashidze told Georgia Today.

    The festival is divided into several parts and includes a performance by members of the Marjanishvili Theatre, an arts exhibition and a presentation of Chateau Mukhrani wines, as well as a film screening.

    Wine Festival opens at Tbilisi's open-air Ethnographic Museum

    12.05.2013 (Hvino News) The 4th New Wine Festival was opened at the open-air Ethnographic Museum in Tbilisi on Saturday.

    About 30 Georgian wine companies and 40 wine cellars are participating with their products, offering unique opportunity to taste wine from all regions of Georgia.

    The Festival is organized by Wine Club with support of Tbilisi City Hall and National Wine Agency. Gigi Ugulava, mayor of Tbilisi, attended the Festival’s opening. The festival aims at popularization of different kind of wines and activities of private entrepreneurs.

    © Hvino News

    Saturday, May 11, 2013

    Georgian wines at The Concours Mondial de Bruxelles

    11.05.2013 (Hvino News). 34 Georgian wines are competing at The Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, which is being held on May 10-12 in Bratislava, Slovakia.

    In total, 8,200 wines from 50 producer countries are presented at The Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, which is set to break new records for number of wines entered by producers across the globe and for the ever-increasing range of judges.

    France remains the leading participating country with 2,489 entries. Ranking second is Spain with almost 1,700 entries. Next come Italy and Portugal with 1,052 and 803 entries respectively, followed by Chile.

    Founded in 1994, the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles has since then achieved the status of a world wine tasting championship.

    Since 2006, the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles has been on tour and has visited Europe’s prime producer regions. The Concours Mondial de Bruxelles has travelled from Lisbon to Maastricht, Bordeaux, Valencia, Palermo, Luxembourg and Guimarães. This year sees the competition’s first foray into Central Europe.

    Friday, May 10, 2013

    Whole truth about Georgian wine

    10.05.2013. Who can tell about Georgian traditions of feast and Georgian wine better than a true toastmaster, an expert in the history and origin of famous toasts? Solomon (Bichi) Tezelishvili is not only a professional toastmaster, but the author of many books about the culture of the Georgian feasts, way of life, mythology and philosophy of different centuries, legal benefits and unique Encyclopedia of aesthetics. He has told GeorgiaTimes the whole truth about Georgian wine.

    - Today, the phrase "Georgian feast" has become the personification of hospitality of the Georgian people. How was the culture of doing the Georgian feast born?

    - Georgia is one huge feast, a gift of the ancestors who have taught us to abide all the rules of conduct at the table. Georgian feast is as much art as our past history. In Georgian mythology the land, the grapes and the sun are closely tied, all depends on each other. The vine in ancient times was considered a symbol of life postponing the death. In Georgia, there was a pagan custom: a woman could not touch the vessel in which the wine was fermenting; she also could not wash the wine dishes. She was allowed to touch these wine vessels only if in the house there was no adult male. It was allowed to pour the wine only remembering the deceased; today this tradition has remained only among the Georgians: remembering the deceased we pour a little wine is bottled on food and bread.

    - Which country is the birthplace of wine?

    Thursday, May 9, 2013

    Davitashvili: Georgian wine to appear in Russia in late May

    09.05.2013 (Hvino News). According to the head of the National Wine Agency Levan Davitashvili, Georgian wineries, which have been registered in Russia, will be able to deliver their products to the Russian market by the end of this month.

    "The companies are expecting to receive excise stamps from Russia; as far as we know, we will get the response of the Russian Federation on this issue after the the May holidays, about the middle of the month. Thereafter, the companies that have completed the registration process start shipping their products," said Davitashvili. In the near future, he said, "relevant departments of the two countries will complete the registration of all necessary documents." "After that, it will be possible to resume exports of honey, fruits, and hazelnuts to Russia", he added.

    © Hvino News

    Wednesday, May 8, 2013

    Decanter's "Jefford on Monday" on Georgia: In quest of the missing sixth

    Dr. Giorgi Dakishvili of Schuchmann.
    Photo: decanter.com
    by Andrew Jefford

    08.05.2013. It was gold in colour, though a little deeper than usual: the colour of my grandmother’s wedding ring. The aromas rolled out like a slow wave at the end of a great ocean: sinuous, seamless, grand. There was wax, incense, menthol, crushed walnut, cheese nestled in straw; there were summer fruits left out on an old stone wall until they had very nearly dried rigid, with just a little acid-spangled fructose left in them. The wine was banquet-like, but not a waterfall of flavour, as Montrachet is. This was, more literally, a knife-and-fork enterprise; the tannins fell softly, like wet snow. It was chewy but gentle, weighty yet lifted, gristly, quietly garrulous.

    We know about white wine, pink wine, red wine, sparkling wine and fortified wine: the great five genres of wine.  Taste a few Georgian wines made from white varieties in a qvevri and you will be in no doubt: this is the sixth genre of wine. The missing sixth? Well, only from a Eurocentric or Occidental perspective. Here in the Caucasus, nursed in the cradle, wines of refinement have been made in this way for 8,000 years.

    Tuesday, May 7, 2013

    Orange wines will never be mainstream. But a case for why they’re more than a dying trend

    by Anna Lee C. Iijima

    07.05.2013. The explosive popularity of so-called orange wines among trendsetting sommeliers has been questioned of late. Critics dismiss them as faddish, extolled for their novelty, rather than their quality. Yet, despite all of the hype (both pro and con), the jury’s still out for the majority of American wine drinkers, as they’ve never tasted them.

    To make most modern white wines, the grapes are crushed, and the solids are quickly separated from the juice to maintain the wine’s pale color. Orange wines are white wines produced more like reds, with prolonged maceration of crushed grape skins and seeds.

    Often made in clay vessels or wooden barrels, they are relics of ancient winemaking traditions that trace back to the Caucasus. They’ve been popularized recently by Italians and Slovenians, and are produced today by enterprising winemakers worldwide.

    Monday, May 6, 2013

    The Emerging Regions Tasting in London: fantastic visitor numbers and positive feedback from the trade

    06.05.2013 (Hvino News). The Emerging Regions Tasting, the new platform for showcasing new quality wine producing regions around the globe to the UK trade proved to be a very successful event. It took place on May 1 in central London.

    The Georgian wine industry was represented by Georgian Wine Association (Bagrationi 1882, Schuchman Wines, Tbilvino, Winery Khareba) and Marussia Georgia (Chateau Mukhrani).

    Patricia Stefanowicz MW, managing director of Freshly Crushed Wine Consultancy, said: "Fascinating range of countries, wonderful wines! It was amazing to explore exciting wines from Armenia and Georgia. A very good event overall..."

    The new tasting for the wine industry provided an excellent opportunity to connect producers as well as importers, distributors, agencies and generics with buyers, looking for interesting and diverse wines to hand-sell through their independent restaurants or retail outlets or other buyers, seeking commercially viable wines for multiple retail. With fantastic visitor numbers and positive feedback from the trade, it is proof that the wine industry needs to keep an eye on new regions, offering exciting wines for buyers seeking something new and different.

    Our publication Hvino News was the official media partner of the event.

    © Hvino News

    Saturday, May 4, 2013

    Georgia to host International Wine Tourism Conference in 2014

    by Baia Dzagnidze

    04.05.2013. After acting as the premium sponsor for the 5th conference held in Zagreb, Croatia last  March [click here for details] , it has been announced that Georgia will be the host of the 6th annual International Wine Tourism Conference (IWINETC) being held next year from March 28-29.

    Organized by Wine Pleasures, IWINETC is the most meaningful international wine tourism event of the year, which includes talk programs, professional speakers from around the world, journalists, bloggers, photographers and tour operators. The conference aims to commercialize wine tourism products thanks to a one-day wine tourism workshop.

    During the conference at Zagreb, Georgia held a special presentation to show the trends and developments of the wine sector in the country, in addition to showing that Georgia has the appropriate infrastructure needed for wine tourism. It was noted that in recent years Georgia has made serious improvement in the growth of this type of tourism.

    Friday, May 3, 2013

    American partner sues Sarajishvili in court

    03.05.2013 (Hvino News). The American company Optima Group Inc. accuses Sarajishvili of failing to comply with contract terms, according to information from Eristavi Legal Group, which represents Optima Group.

    According to reports, in 2011 Optima Group  and  Sarajishvili signed the agreement which granted exclusive rights to Optima Group  to export Sarajishvili products to Russian Federation.

    The general agreement defined the obligations of the parties and granted rights the violation of which provides for certain fine sanctions.

    "Optima Group  fulfilled all its obligation that cannot be said of Sarajishvili, which tries to avoid the fulfillment of the conditions stipulated by the contract. Non-fulfillment of obligations by Sarajishvili harms our clients, so I decided to protect Optima Group's interests through the court. The suit is ready and will be filed in the court in the coming days, "-  said Revaz Beridze from Eristavi Legal Group.

    Optima Group Inc. was established in 2000 in New York. Optima Group has two subsidiary companies – Mercury West AG (Est. 1997) and Iberwine Spirits Inc. (Est. 2001). Optima Group's founder, CEO and Chairman of the Supervisory Board is Michael Rothmans, who belongs to forth generation of the famous Rothmans dynasty.

    © Hvino News

    Thursday, May 2, 2013

    Georgia's agricultural minister resigned amidst fraud scandal (with video)

    02.05.2013 (Hvino News). Georgia's Minister of Agriculture Davit Kirvalidze has resigned after ten of his staff were detained in a corruption scandal.

    Mr. Kirvalidze resigned on Thursday taking responsibility for a fraudulent scheme uncovered in his ministry.

    Police on Wednesday detained ten employees suspected of being involved in fraud in connection with an agricultural voucher program. The vouchers allowed farmers to buy various equipment. Those who are detained are suspected of forging documents about the distribution of vouchers and thereby appropriating part of the money.

    The suspects may face from 6 to 9 years in jail, but the investigation is not yet finished. Thursday, Kirvalidze informed journalists that he would resign.