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Outrage as Putin and Berlusconi drink $100,000 bottle of 240-year-old wine

The Russian leader and former Italian PM consumed a 1775 Jeres de la Frontera during a visit to a winery in the region.

Image: Mikhail Metzel/AP/Associated Press

UKRAINE HAS LAUNCHED a criminal probe into wine-tasting by Russian President Vladimir Putin and ex-Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi after they allegedly quaffed a $100,000 bottle of centuries-old wine in Crimea, prosecutors said today.

The Kremlin strongman and the disgraced billionaire reportedly cracked open a bottle of 1775 Spanish Jerez de la Frontera at the famed Massandra winery during a private visit by Berlusconi this month to the region Moscow annexed from Kiev in 2014.

The bottle was part of a legendary collection established by Prince Mikhail Vorontsov, who ran Crimea as governor-general in the first half of the 19th century.

The Massandra winery was taken over by Russia along with the rest of the Crimean peninsula when Putin sent thousands of special forces troops to capture the Ukrainian region last year.

‘Seizure of government property’

Exiled Ukrainian prosecutors from Crimea said they are now investigating the alleged incident as a “seizure of government property”.

“This wine is not just the property of Crimea or Massandra but of the whole Ukrainian people,” Nazar Kholodnitsky, an official from the prosecutors’ office, told AFP.

Kholodnitsky said that authorities estimated the bottle of wine could be worth “over $100,000″.

Berlusconi met his long-standing friend Putin on a private visit to Crimea earlier this month that sparked ire in Kiev.

In a video from Russian television of the pair’s tour of the winery Berlusconi can be seen asking the director if “it is possible to drink” one of the aged bottles.

- © AFP, 2015 

Read: Elton John wants to talk to Vladimir Putin about gay rights over a cup of tea

Read: Silvio Berlusconi underage prostitute conviction overturned

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