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Georgian PM says his country is safe place for Russian tourists

Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze was commenting on Russia's recent decision to suspend passenger air service with Georgia
Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze EPA-EFE/PATRICK SEEGER
Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze

TBILISI, June 24. /TASS/. Georgia is a safe country for tourists from Russia and other countries, Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze said on Monday.

"Georgia is one of the safest countries in Europe and when we speak about Tbilisi, it is the safest city in entire Europe. Tourists know it very well. Georgia is a safe country for Russian tourists and to all guests coming here," he said in an interview with the Imedi television company commenting of Russia’s recent decision to suspend air service with Georgia.

According to Bakhtadze, the Georgian side plans to raise this issue at the next meeting between Georgian prime minister’s special envoy for relations with Russia Zurab Abashidze and Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin in Prague.

Developments in Tbilisi

Mass protests have been held in Tbilisi since June 20, when demonstrators together with opposition activists tried to break into the building of Georgia’s parliament demanding resignation of the interior minister and parliament speaker. Police used tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons to disperse the demonstrators.

The rally followed a row over the participation of Russian State Duma member Sergey Gavrilov and other Russian delegates in the 26th session of the General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (IAO). On Thursday morning, Gavrilov opened the IAO session inside the Georgian parliament’s building in the capacity of IAO president. Georgian opposition legislators got angry when Gavrilov addressed the delegates from the seat of the parliament speaker. In protest, the opposition disrupted the General Assembly. According to mass media reports, Gavrilov allegedly participated in combat operations in Abkhazia and Transnistria. Gavrilov refuted these allegations as untrue.

As many as 240 people were injured in protests. Police detained more than 300 people.

Following mass protests in Georgia’s capital city Tbilisi, Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 21 signed a decree suspending passenger air service between the two countries from July 8. The Russian Transport Ministry said on the following day that flights to Russia by Georgian air carries will also be banned from July 8. As a reason it cited air safety considerations and outstanding debts for air navigation activities.