TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgia is not going to abolish the law on occupied territories before Russia starts pulling back its occupying troops from Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
This was the response Georgia’s ruling party had to a statement by Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov Wednesday that Russia will cancel visa requirements for Georgians if Georgia cancels a law about the occupied territories.
The law makes it a crime for Russians to cross the border between Russia and Georgia’s breakaway regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia. For this reason, Russians who have previously visited Georgia’s breakaway regions will risk facing criminal prosecution and from two to four years in jail if they come to Georgia.
On February 28, Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili issued a decree canceling visa requirements for Russian citizens, announcing the move in a high profile speech in parliament that evening.
Goka Gabashvili from the majority National Movement party says the law on occupied territories exists because there are occupied territories in Georgia and will exist until this situation changes.