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Police Threats Countrymen after Protest Rally


Gela Mtivlishvili, Kakheti

On September 3, at the session in Velistsikhe village, Minister of Agriculture Bakur Kvezereli reported to the President of Georgia that 110 000 countrymen in Kakheti region will earn 60 million GEL from their grape-harvest; and the vintage was due to over on October 25. Nevertheless, on September 28, countrymen, complaining about the ongoing vintage process, protested in Old Anaga Village in Sighnaghi district.

Protesters claim that grape is decaying but wine-factories do not accept their Rkatsiteli  grape yet.

“We have been visiting the factories for one week but cannot realize my grape,” said Eldar Elashvili.

-Do not you like the offered price?

-No, who cares about price. Factories do not accept Rkatsiteli at all.

-But the minister stated 28 factories would accept it…

-Not a single factory accepts it. The Telavi based factory used to accept Rktatsiteli but today they also stopped...”

-Did you have to transport grape from Sighnaghi to Telavi?

-I am ready to take it even to Tbilisi but nobody will accept it.

“Yesterday, they said on TV Baisubani factory in Lagodekhi district is accepting the grape. I went there but they refused. I have been looking for a factory for two weeks already, so I cannot pick the grape yet,” said a protester.

“I was told in Baisubani they would pay 55 tetri for one kilo of Rkatsiteli grape but they would pay only half price now and another half in December or in January. Besides that, I should transport the grape to Lagodekhi. I have to hire a truck; though every factory refuses to accept grape.”

Signaghi district deputy governor Tamaz Naskidashvili and other officials banned the complaining countrymen to talk with the Information Center of Kakheti.

“If you do not want us to complain, then assist us to realize our grape,” one of the peasants told the deputy governor.

Deputy Governor: Everything is clear. I am here to assist you. But you do not want to sell you grape for 45 tetri; that is the problem”

Countryman: I am not complaining about price; please help me to realize it; grape is decaying.

Deputy Governor: Clients are coming here; both private buyers and representatives of the factory; they offer high price – 60, 63, 65 tetri.

Countryman: I am not complaining about price. Let us realize our grape.

Deputy Governor: Tsnori wine-factory is working and paying 45 tetri for a kilo.

Countryman: How are they working? They accept 5 trucks a day and then stop working. If I pick the grape, where should I realize them? Besides that, if they find at least one decayed grape, they do not pay 45 tetri, they pay only 30tetri.

“I have been trying to realize my grape for a week but in vain. A representative of Kvareli wine-factory measured the glucose and it was 20. Relatively, the peasant took three trucks of the grape to the factory but there they refused saying glucose was low. So, he could not realize his grape,” said Givi Kikilashvili from Jugaani village.

Nodar Toklikishvili, peasant from Zemo Machkhaani: I have one hectare of vineyard. I have not sold anything yet. Where should I realize grape? Nobody accepts it… saying they do not like it. It is already late to pick grape and it started decaying; though I will not throw them away yet.

-Minister of Agriculture and President stated the vintage is successfully going on in Kakheti.

-The president and the minister shall come here; they should not sit in a vineyard… let them come and see what a terrible situation is here. They should not fund singers with millions of GEL; they should spend the money on a new wine-factory.

Head of Vintage Coordinating HQ Tariel Gabunia said peasants’ complaints are groundless.

“About 10 companies accept Rktatsiteli; but of course the grape should be of high quality. It shall be conditional, with about 20 degree of glucose. We started accepting Saperavi late and the same happened with Rkatsiteli. So, they should not complain about it; the glucose is not enough in grapes yet. One factory in Tsnori, Kotekhi factory in Gurjaani, two factories in Kvareli, and one factory in Telavi accept grape but peasants do not wish to sell grape for 45 tetri. They are waiting for the better buyer. There is no problem of selling grape for 45 tetri,” said Gabunia.

Protesters informed us that police officers visited them late at night and warned them “unless you stop complaining, you will face serious problems”.

“They came and told me, why are you complaining? Do you think journalists will help you? I will create so many problems for you that not only current harvest but your entire property will save you from imprisonment. I did not resist them; one police officer was apparently drunk and he was provoking me,” said a protester.

We called Signagi district police for comments but they refused.

Photo-Reportage: ICK

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