The Russian authorities could not have endangered the safety of its citizens in Georgia given the recent turmoil there, hence a temporary flight ban from Russia was imposed, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin told Georgia’s Imedi television on Wednesday.
"We could not have jeopardized our citizens’ safety. Yes, they want to visit Georgia as tourists. However, if something happens, God forbid, everyone will start blaming the Russian authorities for that. Our citizens will say that the Russian authorities miscalculated the foreseeable predicament, so we decided to batten down the hatches just in case," he said.
On June 20, 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, TASS reports.
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 riots 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.
To ensure Russian citizens’ safety, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree, which imposed a temporary ban on passenger flights to Georgia from July 8.