“Russo-Georgian Business Council” Advocates for Trade in National Currencies and Restoration of Diplomatic Relations

On May 14, the “Russo-Georgian Business Council” held an extended meeting to discuss “the development of relations” between Russia and Georgia on both economic and cultural levels. The meeting emphasized “the need for further work to bring the countries together” and called for financial settlements in trade to be conducted in national currencies – rubles and GEL.

The “Russo-Georgian Business Council” was established in February 2023 and, alongside Russian officials, brings together businesspeople who represent the Georgian diaspora in Russia. According to official records, the Council is headed by one Yuri Balashov, listed as board chairman of the “Innovation Company RUMB Ltd.,” which is based in Russia’s town of Dubna since 2019. It reportedly is a small company that mainly works on producing navigation, meteorological, and geodesic equipment.

According to the Council’s press release, the Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Padalko emphasized during the meeting that no one involved in building Russian-Georgian cooperation doubts that relations will develop and will not freeze. He urged the participants of the meeting to continue the implementation of their plans and expressed hope that the foreign ministries would intensify work on restoration of diplomatic relations between Russia and Georgia.

In addition to calls for mutual settlements in national currencies, Padalko also noted the significant ambitions in the transport and logistics sector, in particular, the expansion of road transport, possibly through Russian occupied Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, and the revival of railway communications.

Padalko also stated that “commitments undertaken by the Business Council are being fulfilled while combining the economic agenda with the cultural agenda,” adding that “in some cases, one concert can turn a difficult page, which cannot be turned for many years by diplomatic means.”

The Chairman of the “Russo-Georgian Business Council” Yuri Balashov informed the meeting participants about the results of facilitating movement between the countries by abolishing the visa regime and starting direct flights last year. According to Balashov, 1.2 million tourists from Russia visited Georgia in 2023, an increase of 10% compared to 2022, which is 23.2% of the total number of tourists in Georgia. He added that currently there are more than 30 flights a week from Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan, Sochi and Mineralnye Vody to Tbilisi, Batumi and Kutaisi, and noted that direct flights should be developed to include new cities in Russia and Georgia.

The meeting was attended by David Tsetskhladze, President of the Federal Georgian National-Cultural Autonomy of Russia, who supported the idea of moving forward and creating a strong foundation for Russian-Georgian cooperation. Other participants included Nikolai Tubenshlyak, General Director of the Business Development Agency; Soso Guruli, owner of Tripspace; Vitaly Yazvenko, owner of a glamping site in Georgia; Marika Burchuladze, Sales Manager of VR Holding; Tamara Berulava, General Manager of Green Garden; Dmitry Kostarov, founder of Saperavi TV; and Semen Nadashvili, Deputy Chairman of the “Russo-Georgian Business Council”; etc.

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