Politicians React to Moscow’s Decision to Abolish Visa Regime, Lift Ban on Air Flights

Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued a decree that from May 15, 2023, citizens of Georgia will be able to enter and leave Russia without a visa for up to 90 days. In addition, the ban on Russian air flights to Georgia will also be lifted from May 15, 2023, according to another decree.

Moscow’s decision has triggered reactions from Georgian politicians. offers a complication of these remarks.

Reactions of the ruling party

Shalva Papuashvili, Speaker of the Parliament: “The imposition and lifting of these sanctions is up to Russia alone, and we cannot have any influence in this regard…Georgia has clearly stated two things and we conscientiously follow this path. First, Georgia will not become a territory, where any legal or natural person can circumvent the sanctions imposed on Russia, and Georgia is committed to this pledge; second, Georgia does not plan to impose bilateral sanctions on Russia due to our national interests, to avoid escalation, because Georgia still faces an increased risk of a possible military conflict with Russia.”

Archil Talakvadze, Vice Speaker of the Parliament: “The radical opposition is making absolutely harmful and irresponsible statements. They are demanding the Georgian government to sanction their compatriots. The Russian Federation has unilaterally, of course, without the participation of Georgia, decided to abolish visa requirements…  I would like to say to our compatriots living in emigration that the radical opposition is asking the Georgian authorities to impose sanctions, but we do not agree with it. The Georgian government will never impose sanctions against its own compatriots.”  

MP Irakli Zarkua, Georgian Dream: “It is important for us to make it easy for our citizens to return to Georgia from Russia. Today, Russian citizens enter Georgia from Larsi without any problems, they have no restrictions … The next good step for Russia would be the return of Abkhazia, and the third important step would be the return of Ossetia.”

Reactions of opposition politicians

Tinatin Bokuchava, the United National Movement: “The occupying state no longer considers Georgia to be a hostile state, because it is clear to everyone that there is a pro-Russian force in the Georgian government today, and the fact that Georgian Dream is a pro-Russian force is confirmed by many different facts – the current government’s policy towards Ukraine and Russia, anti-Western messages and actions – so there is really nothing surprising about it.”

Giorgi Gakharia, For Georgia party: “Russia’s decision to resume flights and lift visa restrictions is a result of the Georgian government’s “good behavior,” for which the Georgian government is often praised by top Russian officials. Ivanishvili puts Georgia on the side of the aggressor and threatens the prospects of Georgia’s European integration against the will of the Georgian people.”  

Salome Samadashvili, Lelo for Georgia party: “Today, Russia’s main task is to do everything possible to ensure that our country does not get the candidate status for accession to the European Union, and it is clear that their ally is the very government that rules the country today. We have been told by both the EU and the U.S. that the resumption of direct flights with the Russian Federation would be seen as a move to defy Western sanctions against Russia. So, the first statement we expect from the government…. is that the Georgian government does not share this position and that direct flights cannot be resumed until Russia is sanctioned. If anyone doubted that Georgia is ruled by a pro-Putin regime, I hope that Moscow’s decision, which is a clear reward for the current Georgian government, has convinced everyone.”  

Giorgi Vashadze, Strategy Agmashenebeli: “Putin and his regime have appreciated Georgian Dream’s loyalty. This is direct evidence that there is a connection between them, and secondly, why are Russia and Georgian Dream doing this? They want to impose visa-free travel or direct flights to Russia on us in exchange for the EU candidate status. Our task is to get the EU candidate status and to achieve the final membership [to the EU], not to the Eurasian Union.”

Khatia Dekanoidze, an independent MP: “This is a disaster. It is a reward for the policy that Georgian government has been pursuing in recent months, the policy that the Georgian government, Georgian Dream and Bidzina Ivanishvili have been pursuing in the country after Russia’s large-scale aggression against Ukraine. This is an anti-Western, anti-Ukrainian policy.”

Zurab Girchi Japaridze, Girchi More Freedom: “Visa-free travel is not a problem. Those who want to go should go to the country… that has been draining our blood for more than two centuries, has carried out ethnic cleansing in Abkhazia, continues to occupy our territories, kidnaps, tortures and kills our citizens. The problem is that we are increasingly tied to Russia economically, giving the Kremlin the levers of economic influence over us. And this is happening while the de facto government is busy slamming the West and distancing the country from the West. This is being done deliberately so that when the choice is clearly made between the West and Europe, the Kremlin will have the leverage to put pressure on the part of the Georgian population that will be economically dependent on Russia. In other words, on the one hand, they are trying to reduce the influence of the West with the Russian law and the anti-Western campaign, and on the other hand, they are increasing Russian influence – that is the problem.”

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


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