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Kremlin says flights to Georgia to resume once anti-Russian hysteria ends

The Kremlin spokesman stressed that these measures could not be referred to as sanctions

MOSCOW, June 24. /TASS/. The resumption of airline flights from Russia to Georgia is possible after the situation in the country returns to non-Russophobic state, Russian President’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

"The issued documents [the President’s decree on introducing a temporary ban on air travel from Russia to Georgia since July 8] show that there’s no specific time period. It is only about the return to non-Russophobic state. As soon as it is observed, it will be a reason to think about reconsidering this decision," Peskov said.

At the same time, Peskov said that he did not have an answer to the question of whether paid holiday packages of Russian tourists would be refunded. "I cannot answer your question, I do not know the details, we will try to find out," he said.

Putin imposed temporary restrictions on direct flights to Georgia to ensure the safety of Russians who may be in danger in that country, Peskov said.

He stressed that these measures could not be referred to as sanctions.

"Our journalists [in Georgia] faced the aggressive behavior of far-right nationalists, our parliamentarians faced aggressive attitude towards them," the Kremlin spokesman said. In his view, "these example are sufficient to understand that it could be dangerous [for Russians to travel to Georgia]." "Of course, these restrictions were imposed amid these risks," he explained.

He emphasized that the issue at hand was restrictions rather than sanctions. "We say that we had to impose these restrictions. Russia has no intention of becoming similar [to some other countries] imposing their stance by using illegitimate sanctions. In this case, the issue at hand is restrictions concerning flights and temporary restrictions, not sanctions," Peskov pointed out.

Peskov also told reporters he did not know about plans to impose additional restrictions in the event of further deterioration of the situation in Georgia.

"For now, I am absolutely not aware of the existence of such plans," he said.

According to Peskov, "so far the situation tends to deteriorate, there are certain symptoms of a domestic political crisis in Georgia." "This is not our affair, this is Georgia’s business. It is our affair when it becomes anti-Russian. This is something that makes us worry," he added.

Answering the question on how Moscow makes decision on restricting flights to certain countries, where anti-Russian statements are delivered or anti-Russian campaigns are launched, the Kremlin spokesman said that "the limit is very easy" when solving these problems. "If the situation in the countries where Russian MPs inside the Parliament’s building as part of an international event are attacked by extremists with very unambiguous slogans, which cannot be interpreted in any other way, then these countries are subject to special treatment and this is something to think about," Peskov clarified.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Friday, imposing a temporary ban on passenger flights with Georgia from July 8, the Kremlin press office reported.

On June 20, anti-Russian riots broke out in downtown Tbilisi. The pretext for the unrest was attributed to a session of the General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (IAO), which was held in the Georgian parliament. In line with the protocol, the Russian delegation’s head, State Duma MP Sergei Gavrilov, who is the IAO President, addressed the delegates from the seat of the parliament speaker. Media reports claimed that Gavrilov had allegedly participated in combat actions in Abkhazia and Transnistria, although he dismissed this as fake news. In protest, the opposition disrupted the event and staged a rally, which culminated in an attempt to storm the parliament’s building. During the riots, some 240 people were hurt and over 300 others were detained.