TBILISI, DFWatch–Russia has simplified its visa rules for Georgian transit traffic.
According to Deputy Economy Minister Natia Mikeladze, Russia informed Georgia about the decision through the Swiss embassy, which acts as an intermediary since formal relations were severed after the 2008 war.
She said Friday that Georgian drivers of transit vehicles will get one year multi-entry visas without preliminary registration. If a driver wants to get a visa through a fast-track procedure of three days, he will have to pay USD 310. The fee for a visa through the normal procedure, which takes ten days, is USD 160.
Mikeladze explained that transport traffic between Georgia and Russia is regulated by an agreement signed in February 1994. On October 2, 2006, Russia stopped transport traffic with Georgia.
In 2006, Georgians were deported from Russia, and the country also brought in an embargo on Georgian products the same year, following the arrest of four Russian diplomats in Georgia accused of being spies. Georgia broke off diplomatic relations with Russia after the war in 2008. Despite the strained relations, the National Movement government unilaterally canceled visa requirements for Russian citizens in spring 2012.
There were consultations about reopening transport traffic during 2012, and at the end of that year, Russia sent Georgia permits for 1 000 drivers to transit through with international goods.
In August, 2013, a session of the Russia-Georgia transport commission was held in Moscow. Georgia raised the issue of simplifying visa rules for Georgian drivers who are carrying goods. Russia then expressed readiness to consider this issue.