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Russian delegates won’t be barred from CoE Committee of Ministers session — host Georgia

President Salome Zourabichvili was answering a question whether she agreed that Georgia became "dangerous for parliaments" after the developments of June 2019
Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili Valery Sharifulin/TASS
Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili
© Valery Sharifulin/TASS

STRASBOURG, January 28. /TASS/. Georgia will not prevent the Russian delegation from attending the Tbilisi-hosted session of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe despite their visiting Abkhazia and South Ossetia, President Salome Zourabichvili told a winter session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on Tuesday.

Georgia will "go over and bypass its own national legislation which prevents people who have been visiting the occupied territories without our authorization and without entering through our territory, prevents them from reentering the territory of Georgia, and that would preclude many members of the Russian delegation to enter," the president said addressing the session in English.

Salome Zourabichvili was answering a question from Leonid Kalashnikov, head of the State Duma’s Committee on Commonwealth of Independent States Affairs, Eurasian Integration and Relations with Compatriots, who asked whether she agreed that Georgia "has become dangerous for parliaments" after the developments of June 2019.

On June 20, 2019, several thousand protesters amassed near the national parliament in downtown Tbilisi, demanding the resignation of the interior minister and the parliament’s speaker, and tried to storm it. The protests were sparked by an uproar over the Russian delegation’s participation in the 26th session of the Inter-parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (IAO). On June 20, IAO President Sergei Gavrilov opened the session in the Georgian parliament.

Opposition lawmakers were outraged by the fact that Gavrilov addressed the event’s participants from the parliament speaker’s seat. In protest, they did not allow the IAO session to continue. Shortly after the turmoil in Tbilisi, Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili branded Russia an enemy and an occupier on her Facebook page, but later on said that nothing threatened Russian tourists in the country.

On June 21, IAO members issued an official statement that condemned actions by certain Georgian parliamentarians.

In August 2008, Georgia attacked South Ossetia, prompting Moscow to defend civilians, many of whom held Russian citizenship, along with Russian peacekeepers. As a result of a five-day war, the Georgian troops were driven out of South Ossetia.

On August 26, 2008, then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed decrees recognizing the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. In response, Tbilisi severed diplomatic relations with Moscow on September 2, 2008.

In October 2008, the Georgian parliament passed the law On Occupied Territories, introducing criminal liability for the people visiting Abkhazia and South Ossetia without authorization from Tbilisi.