When opportunity knocks, politics are not a priority – at least for Georgian wineries. Izvestia reports that after a recent announcement to lift Russia’s 2006 embargo on wines from the southern neighbor, the country’s wine producers (79 in total) have been lining up for a chance to renew exports. According to the head of the National Wine Agency of Georgian’s Ministry of Agriculture Levan Davitashvili, that means that all the largest players on the wine market have filed for licensing. Georgia is ready to welcome Russia’s audit committee this week; the team of six people will overview the whole process of wine production to make sure it’s up to Russian standards. Apart from wineries, mineral water producers will also be evaluated – their products, too, were once a popular treat among Russian consumers. Davitashvili expects goods to start appearing in Russian stores this spring, eventually reaching a volume of 8 to 10 million bottles per year – four times less than the pre-prohibition volume; the spokesman experts his country’s wine to compete with Chilean, Italian and French brands. Still, political differences cannot be ignored completely – due to lack of established transit routes it’s still not clear how exported products will be shipped to Russia. Georgian Agricultural Minister David Kirvalidze told the newspaper that the wine industry has full support from his agency; the next step for trade relations with Russia will be renewing shipments of other agricultural goods, which were banned five years ago, in 2008.
Moskovskiy Komsomolets reports that on Monday Vladimir Putin met with representatives of the Foreign Ministry. It was part celebration of the Day of the Diplomatic Worker, part briefing of an upcoming change in foreign policy. After issuing awards and new ranks, the president reminded of last year’s decree on foreign policy, which should serve as a vector for the development of Russia’s international relations for the time being. Reminding that it’s important to peacefully resolve conflicts and uphold primacy of international law, he suggested that the time for “classic diplomacy” is long gone - it means that diplomats have to expand their knowledge and master economics, emerging markets, energy industry, food safety and much more. “Soft power” is becoming a priority – for the country it means strengthening of Russian language, promoting Russia’s image abroad and successfully integrating itself in the global information exchange.
Rossiyskaya Gazeta also has news of the international variety. The daily looks at the Barack Obama’s proposals of further reduction of nuclear arsenals worldwide during his State of the Union speech on Tuesday. On the same day, acting undersecretary of state for arms control Rose Gottemoeller discusses this issue with Russian counterparts in Moscow. The daily reminds that the New START treaty with Russia, under which both countries have to reduce their nuclear arms, entails reduction of 1700 American weapons to 1,550 by 2018; however, the White House believes that Russian and the US can do better – specifically, leave only operational 1000 warheads by 2018. There are two factors to consider here for the US - Republican senators, who tend to be conservative about military issues and Moscow, which has not openly embraced the idea of drastic arms reduction. Director of the Center for Strategy and Technology Analysis think tank Ruslan Pukhov believes this proposal is a win-win for Washington – either Moscow refuses at the cost of losing image or agrees and loses ground in national security – the expert believes that at this time Russia will not be unable to rapidly replenish its military potential, should the need arise.
What has entertainment and space has in common? Quite a lot, if we are to believe science fiction. In fact, one of the staples of modern interactive entertainment, Angry Birds video game, has gone to space with NASA – partially as a publicity stunt to promote another installment Angry Birds Space, partially to entertain the crew. And now it seems the game is becoming standard issue – RBC Daily interviewed Peter Vesterbacka, Marketing Director of Rovie, the company who brought the world this addictive game – he said that the last Russian cosmonaut to board the International Space Station is now also launching birds in space – literally. Rovio is now planning to officially enter the Russian market, which is among top five for the company, among China, Korea and the US. The spokesman highlighted some of the ongoing collaborations with Russian companies and confirmed Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s remarks – indeed, public officials are quite avid fans of the Angry Birds series.