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    Zurabishvili called flights from Russia “undesirable”

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    Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili publicly refused the services of the Georgian airline Georgian Airways due to the fact that the carrier resumed flights with Russia. She stated this at a briefing to journalists on May 20.

    For myself, I declare a boycott of Airzene (Georgian Airways – Gazeta) and urge you to join it. This is a company that uses the state to get rich. This was the case under the previous governments. This continued during covid, and now she wants to take advantage of the new reality, which is unacceptable for most of our population,” Zurabishvili said.

    In addition, the head of state called for putting things in order in the lists of Russian citizens against whom sanctions were imposed by other states in order to prevent their entry into the territory of Georgia.

    “These are the minimum measures to protect our country, which is already under threat due to the geopolitical situation,” the president explained.

    According to Zurabishvili, Georgian Airways is “ready to do anything for money”, which is confirmed by the “happy statements” of its management about the resumption of communication with the Russian Federation.

    The day before, the first flight from Moscow of Azimuth Airlines landed in Tbilisi since 2019, and on Saturday morning, a Georgian Airways flight from Tbilisi landed in the Russian capital. In this regard, on May 20, a protest action began near the airport of the Georgian capital against the resumption of air traffic. According to the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs, six people were detained.

    “The Ministry of the Interior, as an agency responsible for order and security, ensures the protection of public safety during meetings and manifestations, as well as the right to freedom of expression of every person, if this does not go beyond the limits permitted by law,” explained in department.

    In addition, the police detained 16 people during a rally near the Kvarlis Tba hotel in Kakheti in the east of the country – Russian tourists arrived at the hotel, their minibuses were thrown with eggs.

    The protests were announced by Georgian opposition parties (the country’s president is also in opposition to the government of the ruling Georgian Dream party). Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, amid protests, accused the opposition of double standards.

    “I want to remind our society once again what double standards the completely bankrupt, failed opposition is guided by and operates,” the head of the Cabinet said.

    He noted that today’s oppositionists – supporters of ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili – are lying to the Georgian society. And their leader used to personally meet tourists from Russia at the border.

    “These people today are so shamelessly lying to our society and, most importantly, insulting. That is, they say that society must believe in everything they say. This is an insulting attitude. Because of this attitude, they will always be a failed opposition. What was acceptable for them, it turns out, is unacceptable today. Where is the logic?” Garibashvili added.

    Commenting on the protesters’ calls to stop air communication with Russia, the prime minister suggested that the oppositionists want to “worse the situation of people, not to think about the economy and trade.” According to Garibashvili, the current government in its decisions, including the resumption of flights to the Russian Federation, is guided by national interests.

    Russia stopped air communication with Georgia in August 2019, the reason was the protests in Tbilisi. They began during the visit of the Russian Communist Party deputy Sergei Gavrilov, who sat in the speaker’s chair at the opening of a meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of Orthodoxy in the Georgian parliament.

    On May 10, 2023, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the resumption of direct flights and canceled visas for Georgian citizens. Tbilisi issued permission for flights to Azimuth and Red Wings, Moscow – to Georgian Airways. Two more airlines are now awaiting approval.

    The Georgian opposition, including the president of the country, considered the unilateral lifting of the ban on direct flights a provocation. Zurabishvili called flights from Moscow “undesirable”, and MPs fought over this during the plenary session.

    After the Georgian carrier decided to resume flights, insults and accusations of betrayal rained down on him.

    “It’s a shame when our airline is called traitorous. It can be seen even with the naked eye that behind this campaign there are forces that are ready to go against the interests of their own country and people in order to justify foreign grants,” the company said. Georgian Airways has threatened “thugs addicted to politics” with severe legal punishment if they do not stop their provocations.

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