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CHISINAU -- Moldovan Agriculture Minister Valeriu Cosarciuc has defended the overall quality of his country's wine exports against Russian criticism, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports.

Russian medical authorities last month banned the sale of 47 tons of wine imported from Moldova because of its alleged poor quality. Cosarciuc said at a press conference on April 9 he wants the Russians to conduct futher tests on the rejected wine. He said he will insist that Moldovan experts be present at the tests.

Russia's chief medical official, Gennady Onishchenko, asked Moldovan officials on April 7 to control the quality of its exported wine more stringently. He said the March rejection was not a "plot" against Moldova's winemakers and would not lead to any larger ban on imports of Moldovan wines.

Moldovan wine was banned completely from the Russian market from 2006-2009. Many observers in Chisinau believe the ban was imposed in retaliation for the Kremlin's dissatisfaction with aspects of Moldovan foreign policy.

In the last few years, Moldovan wine exporters have diversified their markets, increasing sales in Romania and other EU countries.
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