Russia's flight ban for Georgia takes effect

Valery Sharufulin  TASS

Russian Federation on Monday fumed after a presenter in Georgia launched into a live-TV expletive-laden tirade against President Vladimir Putin, sparking the latest row between the neighboring countries.

Following the demonstrations, Russia instituted a ban beginning July 8 on all Russian-run flights into Georgia and Georgian-run flights into Russia.

Russia's ban on direct flights with neighboring Georgia went into force on Monday amid worsening relations between the two countries.

A similar message was posted by Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili's official Twitter account, which said she "unequivocally condemns hate speech, verbal aggression, insults and provocatory statements made today" Rustavi 2.

"From now on, the Georgian Airways will be operating 14 regular flights a week from Tbilisi to Yerevan until the end of the summer navigation season".

Russia's foreign ministry echoed Peskov's comments, calling the television monologue a "provocation by radical Georgian forces created to undermine Russian-Georgian relations".

Many Georgians are angry that Russian Federation is maintaining a heavy military presence in two regions which broke away from Georgia in a short war in 2008: South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

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"The current outrageous incident is a clear example of where rabid anti-Russian sentiment leads", the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Speaking in Russian, Rustavi-2 host Giorgi Gabunia turned to the camera to address Putin.

Relations came under strain two weeks ago when protests erupted in Tbilisi over a visit by a Russian lawmaker with many demonstrators saying they were angry about the continued presence of Russian troops on Georgian soil.

There also has been talk in Tbilisi about the possibility of running shuttle bus services from Yerevan, Baku, and Trabzon in Turkey to help Russian tourists travel to Georgia. The opposition accuses the Georgian Dream and its billionaire founder Bidzina Ivanishvil of being overly friendly to Russian interests.

Georgian's President Salome Zurabishvili urged Russian Federation not to further aggravate the situation by imposing sanctions.

Moreover, the agenda will be also focused on limitation of money transfers to from Russian Federation to Georgia.

Russian MPs said on Monday they were considering further economic sanctions on Georgia.

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