June 2, 2023
Ordinary citizens of Georgia accepted the abolition of visas with Russia with joy, Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili - with anxiety and concern.

Ordinary citizens of Georgia accepted the abolition of visas with Russia with joy, Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili – with anxiety and concern.


Today, May 10, 2023, by decree of the President of Russia Vladimir Putin obligatory visas for Georgians were abolished. And that’s not all, at the same time the Russian authorities lifted the ban on direct flights of Russian and Georgian airlines between our countries.

How the news was received in Georgia (spoiler – with enthusiasm) and what Russian politicians say about this (the reaction is more restrained) in the KP material.

“Establish that from May 15, 2023, citizens of Georgia enter the Russian Federation without issuing visas on the basis of valid documents proving their identity … This decree comes into force from the date of signing,” the document signed by Putin says.

This means that from now on, Georgians, if they travel on personal business for a period of less than 90 days, will be able to come to Russia with the passport of their country. And no additional documents. Recall that the mandatory visa regime for Georgian citizens has been in effect since 2000.

But that’s not all. For others, the president lifted the ban on direct flights and sales of tours to Sakartvelo by his decree, which, of course, was less effective than a visa for Georgians, but much more annoying. Planes between our countries have not been flying since July 2019, since the riots in the center of Tbilisi, popularly called “Gavrilov” in honor of a State Duma deputy Sergei Gavrilov, who sat down not in the chair, as the Georgian opposition considered. For Georgians who lived off tourists from Russia, this state of affairs was a real tragedy. After all, the tourist flow has decreased significantly. And now…

– I have already looked, while tickets for direct flights did not appear on the sites, but, probably, just about. – A member of the Union of Guides of Georgia literally screams at me into the phone with joy Levon Zarashvilli. – I have already read in the news that your Russian companies will launch 7 flights daily. And yet we have.

Levon, like many in Georgia (but not all, more on that below – author) literally rejoice at such good news from Moscow. Head of the Georgian-Russian Center named after Primakov Dimitri Lotrkipanidze I barely got through, his phone was chronically busy.

– A lot of people call me, thank me (Primakov’s center worked very actively in the field of restoring air traffic – author). Everyone is very happy. To be honest, we did not expect that not only air traffic, but also visas would be cancelled. It’s incredible! I posted a post with this news on the social network, and in 3 minutes 267 likes, – having recovered a little from jubilation, Dimitri switched to an official tone. – Such steps of Russia are a logical continuation of the development of relations between Georgia and Russia. You know that the trade turnover between our countries is growing not by the day, but by the hour. If for the whole of last year it amounted to 1 billion 350 million dollars, then in just 3 months of 2023 it is already 2 billion 800 million!

– And what about your opposition? Have they already made any statements?

– No, they are in shock, apparently. But they will soon, I’m sure. Western politicians from the beginning of the year, as soon as rumors about the resumption of air traffic began to spread, they began to say that this would be a direct declamation of Georgia’s departure from the pro-Western course. Although then in 2019 they said that Russia had banned air travel, and this is contrary to all democratic principles. And here, as he wants to restore, he again contradicts. This is the policy of double standards.

By the way, the president was the first official to make a statement Sakartvelo Salome Zurabishvili. She called the abolition of the visa regime unacceptable. “This is a provocation from Russia,” she said. In Georgia, the president is in opposition to the government. And every day everything is getting tougher, since Ms. Zurabishvili does not hide her pro-Western view, while the government and the prime minister act more rationally and in the interests of the common people, maintaining neutrality in this difficult situation and not entangling a small but proud country into the whirlpool of world events.

But it’s just that people have long dreamed of visa-free travel and direct flights. There are 3.8 million people in Georgia. There are about 1 million ethnic Georgians in Russia. Thus, every Georgian Georgian has a close relative in Russia. This is also understood in Moscow.

– The abolition of visas is a long-awaited decision that will greatly facilitate the life of ordinary Georgians, – the head of the committee of the State Duma Committee on the Commonwealth of Independent States believes Leonid Kalashnikov. We have been insisting on this for several years. Because 1 million Georgians with Russian passports, 1.5 million of our tourists who were forced to fly through third countries… All this is a great relief for all of them.

– And what can such a step mean for Russian-Georgian relations?

– It’s not at all that now we will be friends, as they say in the gums. We do not solve the issues of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Once again I repeat, these indulgences are made in the interests of the simple.

– Nevertheless, the news was received with a bang in Georgia. And it seems to me that some hostility has gone …

– Yes, there is such a feeling.

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