Sunday, 25 August 2019

Russia suspends Georgia flights after violent clashes

MOSCOW: President Vladimir Putin has temporarily banned Georgian airlines from flying to Russia amid rising tensions between the two countries.

Some 240 people were injured in protests in Georgia. The protests were ignited by the appearance of a Russian MP in the country’s parliament.

Mr Putin signed a decree on Friday suspending flights to Georgia by Russian airlines.

The suspensions will start from 8 July.

A transport statement on Saturday said the reason for the latest suspension was to “ensure a sufficient level of air security and arrears” owed by Georgian companies.

The Kremlin said the suspension on Russian airlines flying to Georgia was to “ensure Russia’s national security and protect Russian nationals from criminal and other unlawful activities.”

Tensions between the countries remain high, 11 years after they fought a war over the region of South Ossetia.

On Saturday, a news team from Russian state TV was attacked by two men on the street in the capital, Tbilisi. Nobody appeared to have been seriously hurt in the incident, which was captured on film.

Mr Putin has ordered plans to be made to help bring back Russian citizens already in Georgia.

Moscow also recommended that Russian travel agencies suspend all tours to Georgia.

Several thousand Russian tourists are currently in Georgia, Russian tour agency representative Maia Lomidze told Russian media. According to Russian data, about half a million Russians have visited Georgia to date this year while 1.7 million Russian tourists went there last year.

“Tourism in Georgia is on the rise, and the decision has shocked the whole industry,” Aleksan Mkrtchyan, who runs a chain of Russian travel agents, said in a statement.

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