Russia will review the possibility of lifting its measures against Georgia, including the temporary suspension of flights, when all threats to its citizens are eliminated, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with the Argumenty i Fakty daily.
"We hope Georgian authorities would eventually be able to stabilize the social and political situation in the country and eliminate the existing threats to the safety of Russians," he said. "If this takes place, necessary conditions will be created for reviewing the possibility of cancelling Russia’s precautionary measures, including the ban on flights to Georgia. We are looking forward to friendship and cooperation to the benefit of the citizens of Russia and Georgia."
The minister described the relations between Georgia’s government and the opposition as the country’s domestic affairs, adding that Russia has no plans to interfere into that process.
"However, we cannot help but remain concerned about attempts of several radically minded members of the Georgian political elite to foster Russophobic sentiments and to drive a wedge between our peoples," Lavrov is quoted as saying by TASS.
"Those people hardly reflect about their actions and the damage that they deal to their own country, to the well-being of their people, which to a significant extent depends on the quality of economic and humanitarian ties with Russia."
Moscow expects the Georgian government to realize the "danger and ineffectiveness of continuing to fuel the anti-Russian hysteria" as soon as possible.
"It is also important that the Tbilis authorities eventually find the strength to condemn the shameful act by a local TV station, which aired assaults aimed at the president of Russia, which caused an outcry in the Georgian society itself."
The minister is convinced that the people of Georgia do not see Russians as their enemies.
"Regretfully, we now see certain politicians from this country trying to excel each other at anti-Russian rhetoric to achieve their selfish, timeserving goals," Russia’s top diplomat said. "I’m sure that things will straighten out with time and neighborly relations between our states will resume."
On June 20, several thousand protesters gathered near the building of the national parliament in downtown Tbilisi, demanding the resignation of the interior minister and the parliament’s speaker, and tried to storm it. In response, police used tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons to disperse the demonstrators. According to Georgian media, 305 protesters were detained, 240 people suffered injuries.
The protests were sparked by an uproar over the Russian State Duma delegation’s participation in the 26th session of the Inter-parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (IAO). Opposition lawmakers were outraged by the fact that, in line with the protocol, the Russian delegation’s head and IAO president Gavrilov addressed the event’s participants from the parliament speaker’s seat.
In protest, they did not allow the IAO session to continue and besieged the parliament. 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.
In another development, a host at Georgia’s Rustavi-2 TV channel used foul language to scold the Russian leadership for more than a minute. Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili, Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze, Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze, former Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze, Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze and ex-Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze strongly condemned those remarks. In addition, the TV host’s rant received a lot of backlash from a large number of Georgian Facebook users.