Published on : Monday, June 24, 2019
In response to anti-Moscow rallies in the Georgian capital Tbilisi, Vladimir Putin had signed a decree late Friday banning Russian airlines from flying to pro-Western Georgia from July 8, 2019. Russia’s transportation ministry said that from July 8 two Georgian airlines would be banned from flying to Russia, citing the need to ensure “aviation safety” and debt owned by the Georgian companies.
Authorities have recommended tour operators to stop selling travel packages to Georgia and have advised Russian tourists to leave Georgia and return home.
The protests broke out after a Russian lawmaker addressed parliament from the speaker’s seat earlier this week, a hugely sensitive move for two countries whose relations remain tense after a brief war in 2008.
On Saturday, protesters took to the streets of the Georgian capital for a third day of rallies, with some 3,000 demanding snap elections and electoral reform. The crowd sang a profanity-laced, anti-Putin chant and some of the demonstrators held up placards insulting the Russian president. Demonstrators also shot paper airplanes into the sky in response to the Russian bans.
The Kremlin has said the ban against travel to Georgia was to “ensure Russia’s national security and protect Russian nationals from criminal and other unlawful activities.”
Authorities recommended travel companies stop selling holiday packages to Georgia and advised Russian tourists to return home. Russia’s travel industry consider the move as a political one.