Putin’s staff on wine buying spreeBy Simon Howland
Russia’s presidential staff have bought up more than a million bottles of European wine amid fears it could soon follow dairy, fruit and meat imports and be banned.
As Moscow imposes its own measures in response to recent EU sanctions, the presidential administration has purchased more than a million bottles of wine from Europe, more bottles than its staff can possible drink or serve at receptions according to the Moscow Times.
Wine is not currently included on the list of banned food imports, introduced this month in response to the ongoing crisis in the Ukraine and aimed at the EU and other Western powers.
And with a substantial rise in wine purchases from the EU this year alongside calls from the Crimea to cut imports and support the local wine industry there are growing concerns these sanctions could soon be expanded to include wine.
Russian daily news service the RBC reported the Production Supply enterprise, or PPP, run by the presidential administration and responsible for equipping governmental agencies, had more than a million bottles of wine delivered from within the EU in the first six months of this year.
When compared to the same period last year these purchases represent a substantial growth of 26%.
According to the RBC, if every reception attendee were to drink half a bottle of wine per person at every event held by the administration the volume of wine purchased would allow the government to host more than 5,000 people every day of the year.
Speaking to the RBC, a spokesman for Russia’s Office for Presidential affairs, Victor Khrekov, said some of the wines purchased are then sold off to other domestic organisations stating: “An enterprise or organization that is holding an event purchases alcohol and products in accordance with procedures laid out by the current law.”
However some of these wines are finding their way into local wine merchants. According to the Moscow Times a wine seller based in Moscow, operating both a store and online, declares on its website its Spanish sparkling rose, the Marina Espumante Rosado, carries a numbered hologram from the PPP.
Speaking to the RBC, Khrekov argued that liquor sales, accounting for a 2.4% of the agency’s revenues were negligible.
“This is a new direction for PPP and is not an essential one for the company,” he said.
Citing SPARK, a financial database run by Interfax, RBC claimed the PPP had a total budget of 6.5 billion rubles (£107 million) last year putting the agency’s wine sales at approximately £2.5 million.