TBILISI, DFWatch – Russia warns its citizens of going to Georgia, while Georgia responds that the dangers are made up.
Russian travel advice for those of its citizens who plan to vacation in Georgia is not the usual notes about vaccines and visas; it warns that Georgian special services may “systematically repress and detain” the visitor.
Now Georgia responds to the unusual travel warning.
Georgia’s Foreign Ministry points out that the number of Russians visiting Georgia has significantly increased since visa requirements were lifted for all Russians six weeks ago.
“The Russian government clearly got confused and first avoided taking responsive steps by absurd reasons, and later tried and now also tries to scare its citizens with made up dangers,” the Georgian Foreign Ministry writes.
Georgia passed a law in the wake of the 2008 war with Russia which prohibits people from visiting the breakaway regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia from the borders with Russia, except with express permission from Tbilisi. Lately two Russians have been arrested for violating the law, both of them for having crossed into Abkhazia the wrong way.
“Georgian special services continue to systematically track and punish the Russians entering the country. This is done, as we see, in secret, without undue publicity. But the media widely reports propaganda shows like Saakashvili’s visit to the checkpoint “Kazbegi”, where he reportedly welcomed Russian citizens crossing the border, saying, ‘Come more often’”, the Russian foreign ministry and advised its citizens not to visit Georgia.
The Georgian foreign ministry says the Russian statement makes it clear that Russia is not only against the Georgian government, but also normal relations and friendship between Russian and Georgian people.
“The Russian government seriously fears that as a result of Russian citizens’ more and more visits in Georgia, the fakeness of Russian official propaganda will become clear, and accordingly, the vicious nature of the policy the Russian government is conducting towards Georgia.”
The new visa rules enforced on February 29 allows Russians to visit Georgia and stay for 90 days without a visa.
Russian officials responded that the country will reciprocate only if Georgia removes the ban on crossing Russia’s borders with the breakaway republics, which is found in the law on the occupied territories. The ban means Russian citizens risk getting arrested and sentenced to up to four years in jail, if they have crossed the border points in question.
Georgia said such a law amendment will only be possible if Russia starts pulling back troops from the breakaway republics Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which it occupied after the war in 2008.