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Putin cancels visa requirement for Georgian citizens and removes ban on direct flights to Georgia

Source: Meduza

Vladimir Putin has signed decrees canceling the visa requirement for Georgian citizens to travel to Russia and removing the ban on flights from Russia to Georgia that was imposed in June 2019.

Georgia citizens traveling to Russia for work or academic study, as well as anybody seeking to stay for more than 90 days, will still need visas, according to the document. The new policy is set to come into effect on May 15.

A representative from the Russian Transport Ministry told state media that airlines have already begun preparing to resume services and plan to make seven flights from Moscow to Tbilisi and back each week.

The Russian Foreign Ministry withdrew its recommendation for Russians to refrain from traveling to Georgia immediately after Putin’s orders were issued.

Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili tweeted a response to the news of Putin’s decrees, calling the changes “another Russian provocation,” “unacceptable as long as Russia continues its aggression on Ukraine and occupies our territory.”

Update: Georgia’s Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Mariam Kvrivishvili told the Georgian news outlets Netgazeti and Mtavari that Georgia would open its airspace to direct flights from Russia by airlines that aren’t under any international sanctions. Kvrivishvili is a member of Georgian Dream, Georgia’s ruling party.

Russia and Georgia severed diplomatic ties in September 2008, when Moscow recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and sent its troops there after the five-day Russo-Georgian War. After breaking off relations, the two countries opened interests sections within the Swiss Embassies in each other’s countries.

In recent years, the Russian authorities have repeatedly banned direct air travel to Georgia and imposed visa regimes for its citizens as a means of applying political pressure on Tbilisi.

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