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Tbilisi Denies Aiding Russia Sanctions Evasion

Georgia’s Finance Minister Lasha Khutsishvili today denied as “completely incomprehensible” the recent claim by Ukrainian Defense Intelligence that Tbilisi is in talks with Moscow on reexporting sanctioned Russian goods to international markets.

Recalling that this was the second accusation of sanctions evasion by the Ukrainian Intelligence against Tbilisi, Minister Khutsishvili said “unfortunately no additional information was provided about this claim either.”

He said that the Georgian Government will reach out to Kyiv to demand specific details backing the allegation.

Georgia fully complies with the international sanctions regime as regards both Russia’s access to foreign currencies and merchandise trade, the Finance Minister asserted.

Minister Khutsishvili further argued that Georgia’s international partners, which have hit Russia with sanctions, have “no questions” about the Georgian Government’s compliance with the measures.

He stressed that Tbilisi maintains “very strict customs control” in this regard, adding that countries that have sanctioned Russian goods also vet the relevant imports on their part.

Russia evading sanctions through re-exporting from Georgia would be “unimaginable,” the Minister argued.

In response to Kyiv’s accusation, First Vice-Speaker of the Parliament, Gia Volski asserted today that “there are no negotiations underway in Georgia on sanctions evasion, such [talks] will not take place, cannot take place.”

He urged the Ukrainian intelligence service to disclose any additional details it may possess over the accusation.

Opposition reactions

Khatia Dekanoidze of the United National Movement, the largest opposition party, said there are “substantiated doubts” that Russia could exploit Georgia to evade sanctions.

In this context, MP Dekanoidze cited ties between ruling Georgian Dream party founder billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili and sanctioned Russian oligarch Vladimir Yevtushenkov and Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili’s alleged recent meeting with Kremlin-allied businessman Ali Uzdenov. MORE

MP Salome Samadashvili of Lelo said the party plans to summon PM Garibashvili to the Parliament to explain regulatory steps taken by the authorities to prevent sanctions evasion.

Meanwhile, MP Paata Manjgaladze of the Strategy Aghmashenebeli argued the Government should endorse obligatory instructions for customs authorities, clearly outlining which goods shall be allowed to ship from Russia. “Otherwise, any accusation from our partners will be justified,” he added.

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This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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