Georgia banned import of Russian beer

Moscow's ban has hit the poor Caucasus Mountain nation hard, and Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili's comments were the latest in increasingly harsh statements from the Georgian government on the subject.

"I personally would welcome a decision to bar Russian beer from the Georgian market," he told reporters. "This would bring great advantage to Georgian companies whose production isn't reaching Russia."

State Minister Kakha Bendukidze said, however, that the government for now was not planning to enact such a ban, saying it could happen only if harmful ingredients were found.

"For now, no such incidents have been recorded," he said.

Last week, Okruashvili dismissed Russia's consumer market as a "bazaar of very low consumer quality." Earlier, Russian officials were outraged by his comment that Russian standards were so low that "one can sell, I beg your pardon for this expression, even fecal matter."

Russian health officials banned wine and liquor imports from Georgia and Moldova in late March, saying they had found pesticides and heavy metals, but many in Georgia and elsewhere said the ban was politically motivated, the AP reports.

Georgia, which is largely agricultural, relies heavily on wine and other exports to Russia, and President Mikhail Saakashvili has asked Okruashvili to seek out new markets.

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