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11 May. 2023

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Another provocation: russia lifts ban on flights to Georgia and visa regime

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Another provocation: russia lifts ban on flights to Georgia and visa regime

Georgian authorities may resume flights with russia for the first time since 2019. Find out more about how the situation may affect Ukrainians living in Georgia

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Russian dictator vladimir putin has lifted the ban on direct flights between russia and Georgia and canceled the visa regime for Georgian citizens. We explain what this means and how it may affect the stay of Ukrainians in Georgia.


Air service between Georgia and russia. How did it all start?


The visa regime between Georgia and russia was introduced back in 2000 by the decision of the russian government, and Georgia also introduced a visa regime for russian citizens. 


At the same time, direct flights between the two countries were suspended in 2019 due to protests that followed a speech in the Georgian parliament by russian MP Sergei Gavrilov in Tbilisi. 


In addition, russian residents were advised to refrain from traveling to Georgia for security reasons. And now this recommendation has been canceled, as well as all the other restrictions listed above.




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Georgia's reaction 


The ruling Georgian Dream party welcomed putin's decision and explained it as "in the interests of Georgian citizens living in russia who have difficulties coming home".


At the same time, the Georgian president, who has limited powers and whose position does not yet reflect that of official Tbilisi, condemned moscow's decision.


In her opinion, putin has made another provocation.


"The resumption of direct flights and the abolition of the visa regime with Georgia is unacceptable as long as russia continues its aggression in Ukraine and occupies our territory", - she said.


How can the resumption of flights between russia and Georgia affect Ukrainians?


In January 2023, the Ukrainian Embassy in Georgia suggested that if direct flights between russia and Georgia resume, the Ukrainian side may request the evacuation of its citizens.


"In the event of the resumption of direct flights and the growth of real security risks, I want to say that today the embassy does not reject the possibility of appealing to international organizations, to our international partners in order to consider the possibility of assisting in the mass evacuation of Ukrainian citizens from the territory of Georgia", - said Charge d'Affaires of Ukraine in Georgia Andriy Kasyanov in an interview with European Pravda.


The diplomat explained that this will happen if there are real threats to the lives and safety of Ukrainians due to the massive influx of russians. 


Currently, Visit Ukraine has requested a more detailed response from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine on this issue. If the information is provided, the material will be updated.


Note that the only way to get from russia to Georgia is by land. Currently, there is only one point where you can cross the border with Georgia - Verkhny Lars checkpoint in the Daryal Gorge (40 km along the highway from Vladikavkaz).



Photo: Reuters




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