Russia to resume flights to Georgia?

Russia to resume flights to Georgia?

Moscow does not rule out the suspension on direct flights between Russia and Georgia could be revised, according to a source in the Russian Foreign Ministry, who was speaking on condition of anonymity.

"If the situation in Georgia returns to normal, and Russophobia stops, if there are safety guarantees for our citizens, then we can talk about air communication," Kommersant cited the source as saying.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said yesterday that out of respect for the Georgian people, there is no need to impose sanctions on Tbilisi.

"For the sake of these people and for the sake of restoring full-fledged relations between Russia and Georgia, I wouldn’t do anything that would complicate the relations," he said. 

Commenting on the initiative put forward by Russian parliamentarians, Putin said that Georgian journalist Giorgi Gabunia, who insulted the Russian president earlier, "does not deserve the honor" of having a criminal case opened against him. "In modern Georgia, the anti-Russian rallies are provoked by people who either do not know anything or know [something] and ignore it, in the end irreversibly damaging Georgia itself," Putin stressed.

On July 9, the State Duma unanimously adopted the statement, condemning the anti-Russian provocations on Georgia and proposing that the government and the President respond to them by introducing a number of economic measures. Putin said that Russia should not introduce sanctions out of respect for the Georgian people and to preserve the bilateral ties.

On July 7, Giorgi Gabunia, the host of Georgia’s Rustavi 2 TV channel, went into a rant, spewing forth several crude comments about the Russian authorities in his Post Scriptum program. This escapade has drawn sharp criticism in the Georgian society, with dozens of citizens gathering outside the opposition TV channel’s building in the suburb of Tbilisi to voice protest over the host’s behavior.

Georgia’s authorities, including President Salome Zurabishvili and Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze, have condemned the incident. Nika Gvaramia, Director General of the Rustavi 2 TV channel, likewise criticized Gabunia for his remarks. Later, Gabunia was suspended from work for two months.

Rallies in Tbilisi were started on June 20 by former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili's United National Movement Party after Russian MP Sergey Gavrilov took the seat of the Georgian parliamentary speaker and addressed the audience during the  Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy. The protesters eventually tried to storm the parliament building. As a result, 240 people suffered injuries and more than 300 were detained.