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Russian Deputy FM on Relations with Georgia amid Tbilisi Protests

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said on July 2 that it is “painful for him to realize how radicals, who emerged from [ex-President Mikheil] Saakashvili’s classroom managed to divert protest rallies of June 20-21 into an anti-Russian direction.”

Karasin spoke with the Russian daily Kommersant about the developments in Tbilisi which were triggered by the Russian delegation’s presence at a session of the Inter-parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy in the parliament’s plenary chamber on June 20.

He said “as a result, all the positive developments in relations between Georgia and Russia, that were achieved through joint efforts since 2012, turned out to be under attack”, adding regretfully that “the new [positive] atmosphere was starting to reflect on welfare of our nations and was already bringing its results,” Karasin said.

“But it turned out that all of [these achievements] are fragile and can be mindlessly thrown away by the crowds under the accompaniment of rude and irresponsible declarations of high-ranking officials of Georgia,” he added.

Karasin then noted that “radicals” close to opposition United National Movement (UNM) “brought the situation back to the deadlock of hostility and confrontation.” “I am convinced that Tbilisi understands this now very well,” the Russian Deputy FM said.

According to him, it is not in Russia’s traditions to “swallow rudeness and threats against its people,” and that Moscow had to “assess risks in advance and block them”, by announcing a ban on flights to and from Georgia.

“I hope that our adequate reaction has brought back to their senses, those who want to cynically score points in a political game at the expense of anti-Russian rhetoric and threats,” Karasin said, noting that “provocateurs and people who wish ill for Russia managed to use the ongoing demonstration for fulfilling anti-Russian agenda.”

Saying “we will struggle for active relations with Georgia,” the Russian diplomat noted that the Georgian and Russian people have “enough patience and common sense to promote constructive approach.”

Reiterating that Russia’s response to Tbilisi protests was “necessary,” Karasin said Moscow expects that “the situation in Georgia will become normal, Russophobic campaign will end and any threats to the safety of our citizens will disappear.”

Karasin spoke about relations with Georgia ahead of the 48th round of Geneva International Discussions (GID) – the multilateral forum to address security and humanitarian consequences of the Russo-Georgian War of August 2008 – scheduled for July 2-3.

He said GID “addresses exclusively the relations among Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Georgia,” but Russia and Georgia will “also devote some of their time to bilateral relations,” on the sidelines of GID.

A group of opposition and civic activists gathered in front of the parliament of Georgia, condemning the Russian delegation’s presence at a session of the Inter-parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy in the parliament’s plenary chamber on June 20.

Responding to forced departure of the Russian MPs from Tbilisi and the anti-Russian tenor of Tbilisi protests, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the temporary ban on flights to and from Georgia starting July 8, “to protect Russian citizens from violence or other illegal actions.” He also ordered Russian citizens’ evacuation.

The Russian Foreign Ministry echoed expressed concern “over the aggravation of the internal political situation in Georgia,” and argued that the members of the Russian delegation “were injured as a result of the actions of the radical Georgian opposition employing anti-Russian slogans” – even though there have been no confirmed reports of injuries.

Peaceful demonstrations continue in Georgia with protesters gathering in front of the parliament of Georgia on Rustaveli Avenue at 7 pm every day, demanding Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia’s resignation.

Follow our tag on Tbilisi protests for further developments

This post is also available in: Georgian Russian

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