A rally against the resumption of air flights with Russia is taking place in Tbilisi, in front of the Parliament building. Civil society activists, opposition politicians and ordinary citizens are demanding an “immediate” ban on flights to and from Russia, saying that this puts Georgia at serious risk of failing to attain EU candidate status. The rally participants believe that by restoration direct air links with Russia may result in sanctioning of Georgia.
The protest in front of the Parliament was planned for 8 pm as the first plane from Moscow landed at Tbilisi International Airport on May 19, following Russia’s decision to restore direct flights to Georgia. The first Russian plane was met with protests in Georgia’s capital. Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili also expressed her dissatisfaction as she wrote on Twitter: “Despite the opposition of the Georgian people, Russia has landed its unwelcome flight in Tbilisi.”
Despite public protests, Moscow’s decision to restore direct flights to Georgia and lift the visa regime is welcomed by the ruling party, who says that “from a humanitarian point of view” any decisions that make it easier for Georgian citizens to live, move and do business are “positive and welcome”.