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TBILISI, March 2 (Itar-Tass) —— Visa-free travel for Russian citizens will not endanger Georgia, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili told university students on Friday.
He called unfounded claims of certain politicians and media outlets that the move would threaten Georgia. “Visa- free travel for Russian citizens will facilitate humanitarian contacts, enlarge the number of Russian tourists, develop humanitarian and economic relations and give Russians a realistic impression of the life in Georgia,” he said.
“Claims that visa-free travel will lead to the incursions of saboteurs and terrorists are unconvincing and unfounded,” he said. “First of all, Georgian law enforcers have sufficient skills and technologies to prevent such incursions. Secondly, terrorists, saboteurs and other unwelcome elements usually come to a foreign territory across mountains, forests and along illegal paths rather than through checkpoints.”
Georgia unilaterally opened itself to Russian citizens on February 29. Russians can come without visas and stay in Georgia for 90 days.
Visas between Georgia and Russia were introduced in 2000 by the Russian initiative. Georgia followed the suit. It simplified the issue of visas unilaterally in September 2004: it was possible to receive a Georgian visa of one to three months upon the arrival in the country. Since October 2010 residents of the North Caucasus were able to come to Georgia across the Kazbegi checkpoint for 90 days without visas. Now all Russians do not need to seek Georgian visas.