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Georgian president calls for more stringency towards Russians living in Georgia
Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili has issued a statement expressing disapproval over the government’s move to resume direct flights between Russia and the Republic of Georgia.
Zurabishvili also called for more stringent regulations with regard to Russian nationals living in the country.
We must develop normative acts — in our labor law, in registering businesses, in buying real estate or opening Russian-language schools,
wrote the president in her statement.
Zurabishvili says that she has already asked the government to take notice of the influx of Russians to Georgia, so that Georgian society “would feel that its national interests and security are taken into consideration and protected.”
The president’s statement also criticizes the government for its indeterminate position towards Ukraine:
At a time when our partner countries are showing maximal solidarity with Ukraine’s selfless struggle in word and deed, in my opinion and the opinion of the majority of Georgian society, the government’s and the ruling party’s position is, to put it mildly, hard to understand.
Direct flights between Russia and Georgia were paused in the summer of 2019, on Russia’s initiative.
On January 18, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that he hopes that direct flights might resume in the near future. This idea was welcomed by Irakli Kobakhidze, head of the ruling Georgian Dream party. Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry then criticized Kobakhidze for “curtsying” to Moscow.
Together with Armenia, Turkey, and Kazakhstan, the Republic of Georgia is one of the countries that received the most Russian emigrants, who left Russia after it invaded Ukraine. In November 2022, Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili said that, in the six weeks since the start of mobilization in Russia, 700,000 Russians had come to Georgia, and 100,000 of them stayed there.
In January, the National Bank of Georgia reported that Russian money transfers to Georgia had increased by 500 percent compared to the previous year, amounting to $2,068 million.
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