Saturday, August 27, 2016


Ukraine Livid As Putin, Berlusconi Swig Crimea's Oldest Bottle Of Wine

Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) and Italian former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi visit archaeological excavations outside Sevastopol, Crimea, on September 12.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) and Italian former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi visit archaeological excavations outside Sevastopol, Crimea, on September 12.
By Claire Bigg

When a scandal-prone Italian and a combative Russian get together on recently annexed territory, you might expect them to uncork a bit of controversy.

Less than a week after their demonstrative visit to Crimea, Russian President Vladimir Putin and former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi stand accused of drinking one of the forcibly annexed peninsula's oldest surviving bottles of wine.

Crimean prosecutors now exiled in mainland Ukraine say the two leaders tasted a 240-year-old bottle of Spanish wine produced during the 18th-century reign of Catherine the Great and brought to Crimea by Count Mikhail Vorontsov.

The wine-loving count served as governor-general of Crimea for more than two decades in the early 19th century.

The Massandra winery that he established in Crimea, including his private wine collection, was taken over by Russia when it seized Crimea from Ukraine last year.

Prosecutors in Ukraine have now opened a criminal case over the incident involving Putin and Berlusconi, citing "large-scale misuse of property."

Russian newspaper Promyshlennie Vedomosti reports that Berlusconi asked whether he could taste the wine during a tour of the winery.

The newspaper, quoting a witness, says Massandra's new pro-Russian director, Yanina Pavlenko, then uncorked the precious bottle of 1775 Jeres de la Frontera for the high-ranking guests.

Prosecutors say the bottle was worth more than $90,000.

At the time of Crimea's annexation, the winery owned five bottles of Vorontsov's famous Jeres.

Two more bottles were sold at a Sotheby's auction in 1990 and 2001. The wine fetched $50,000 at the 2001 auction, which took place with the personal authorization of then-President Leonid Kuchma of Ukraine.

In June 2014, the Massandra winery was placed on the list of EU sanctions after passing into Russian hands.

Claire Bigg

Claire Bigg covers Russia, Ukraine, and the post-Soviet world, with a focus on human rights, civil society, and social issues. Send story tips to​


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Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: Ryan
September 17, 2015 17:30
Berlusconi is an arrogant ass. Whats wrong with europe to have such asses in power as him and his girlfriend putin?
In Response

by: David
September 17, 2015 22:09
Blame on wine.
In Response

by: Chris
September 18, 2015 08:03
Italy... not Europe, voted for Berlusconi. Blame the Italians and not the Europeans.
In Response

by: kenneth from: Las Vegas
September 21, 2015 00:57
Woulndn't believe that a bottle of 241 year old wine would taste any good, would it?

by: orel from: Virginia
September 17, 2015 21:01
Look at B's mug.....even Putin, who is no slouch himself when it comes to whoring, pandering and thieving seems to have a pained expression. Glad B and P are drinking buddies can know each of them by the company they keep.
In Response

by: rickie glenn from: Tampa
September 19, 2015 13:56
Look everyone just admit it was a Gay retreat Just look at them having a lovers quarrel spat in the photo.

by: Baldurdasche from: botswanaland
September 17, 2015 21:57
I expect that they'll put it back, tomorrow and 'repatriate' the bottle to Kyiv. They think they own it and want it that badly.

by: Bruno
September 18, 2015 02:05
Que basura de noticia. No tienen otras cosas mas importantes que propalar?? les nota la rusofobia a millas!

by: Bob from: USA
September 18, 2015 05:29
That's frickin' HILARIOUS !

Good for President Putin !

by: Danil Szawica from: Seattle
September 18, 2015 14:25
I hope they both got diarrhea from drinking that wine.

by: Maria Ashot from: Brussels, Belgium
September 18, 2015 14:43
Two contemptible criminals with neither shame nor conscience, who imagine themselves to be the equals of the Caesars. What a disgusting display of megalomania! Indeed, they should be prosecuted for what is essentially theft. These wine collections are priceless.
In Response

by: Dima
September 21, 2015 08:26
Russia is bigger than the Roman Empire...

by: Jack from: US
September 18, 2015 16:22
so Ukrainians stole 2 bottles of that wine and sold them at Sotheby's action? wonder whose pockets the money ended up in...?
It was not Ukrainians but Russians who brought that wine to Crimea and it was not Ukrainians but Russians who established Massandra Winery. Ukrainians pillaged it while Crimea was illegally occupied by Ukrainians. Glad it is back to its rightful owners
In Response

by: rickie glenn from: Tampa
September 19, 2015 13:47
the former president and exiled leader to Ukraine?
In Response

by: Alex from: KS
September 19, 2015 17:48
In Response

by: Alex from: US
September 19, 2015 17:53
Also, how was Ukraine illegally occupying Crimea when the Soviet Union changed government districts to make administration easier--Russians like to forget that as part of the deal Kruschev gave Ukrainian territory to Russia. But of course, Jack won't mention that--it's not on his talking points from RT.
In Response

by: Elaine
September 20, 2015 00:06
So how was it a legal act for Khruschev (himself and ethnic Ukrainian) to give the Russian land to Ukraine (part of the USSR at the time) without the approval of his government? The act was illegal and unconstitutional. Also, Ukraine has been tirelessly telling the world that the Soviet regime was illegal and it wants to have nothing to do with it. They can't have their cake and eat it. Crimea was listed as Ukrainian only for a couple of decades. It was Russian since the 18th century - a conquest of the Russian empress Catherine the Great. Learn history and stop yapping that Crimea is Ukrainian. It is soaked with the blood of Russian soldiers, shed over the centuries of wars. Whatever is in Crimea belongs to Russia.

by: rodan from: Simferopol
September 19, 2015 01:29
In Response

by: orel from: Virginia
September 20, 2015 00:57
Il Duce.... my arse. Il Duce, at least, made the trains run on time and women threw themselves at him . This midget simply stole what he could and paid outrageous sums to have women simply look at him.

Ukraine had its felon president - Yanukovych. But unlike the Italians who let this guy out of the cage, Yanukovych is now afraid to set his foot in Ukraine.

As regards the other midget - he's nothing but a turd in a silk stocking.

Both of them are pussies.

by: rickie glenn from: Tampa
September 19, 2015 13:43
Tomorrow headlines reads Italian former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi request russian passport to avoid payment taxes in Italy?
Comments page of 2

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