Air routes between Russia and Georgia have been restored

They had been suspended by Putin in 2019 and caused some protests among Georgians who fear a rapprochement between the two countries

The first plane from Russia in more than three years landed on Friday at the airport of Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. Outside the airport, a crowd of a few hundred gathered with “You are not welcome” signs to protest the reinstatement of this route, which protesters say is a government move to improve relations with Russia at the expense than those with the European Union. The police intervened to remove the demonstrators from the arrivals area of ​​the airport.

Direct flights between Russia and Georgia had been banned by a decree by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2019, in response to protests that had taken place in Tbilisi against Russia. The flight that arrived on Friday around 13:20 was from Azimuth Airlines, but Georgian Airways has already announced that it is planning daily routes to Moscow.

Although the two countries have no diplomatic relations since war of 2008this openness has strengthened the idea already widespread in a large part of the population that the government led by the Georgian Dream party is influenced by Russia.

– Read also: The iconic moment of the protests in Georgia, with a European flag and a water cannon

In February 2022 Georgia had applied to join the European Union together with Ukraine and Moldova, but unlike the other two countries it had not been accepted as a “candidate”. Now Georgia is waiting to hear from the European Union whether in the meantime it has met the necessary requirements, and the government’s move to reopen the direct air route with Russia has been defined by many associations as “sabotage”. In Georgia, public opinion is still largely in favor of the country’s entry into the European Union.

Irakli Kobakhidze, leader of Georgian Dream, argues that the beneficiaries of this new air route will above all be “our citizens who have to make a detour at three times the cost”, in addition to citizens of Georgian origin now living in Russia, who he claims are millions (while Russia says they are just over 100 thousand). And he added that only air flights not subject to sanctions by the European Union will be authorised. Russia also eased a 20-year-old visa restriction on Georgians, who can now stay in the country for up to 90 days.

In Georgia, the first protests by a part of the population against the government and in favor of rapprochement with the European Union began in March, for a bill that it was later shelved and which closely resembled a law used in Russia to repress dissidents and independent media. In April thousands of people had protested against the government and in favor of the European Union, the United States and Ukraine: the demonstration was organized by the main opposition party in support of Mikheil Saakashvili, who was president of Georgia from 2004 to 2013 and has been in prison since 2021 with a sentence to six years for charges that international organizations deem politically motivated.

– Listen also: Georgia, which was first

Continue on the Post

#Air #routes #Russia #Georgia #restored
2023-05-19 18:08:31

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.