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Russia’s Karasin: Forthcoming elections in Georgia are a threat

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, March 17
“The main threats today in Georgia are the forthcoming parliamentary elections and the growing anti-Russian rhetoric,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said before meeting Georgian Prime Minister's Special Representative Zurab Abashidze in Prague on March 16.

According to him, Georgian anti-Russian rhetoric is heard in Tbilisi and at international platforms.

"The main threats today in Georgia are the forthcoming parliamentary elections and the growing anti-Russian rhetoric, which is heard in Tbilisi, international platforms and among public is most regretful in our bilateral relations that such sentiments are observed among officials, politicians, ministers and even from the President,” Karasin said.

“Naturally we pay considerable attention to this and we try not to respond to each verbal attack, but we draw our own conclusions. Now we are at a crossroads, when we have to make a choice – either we go back to confrontation, or continue mutual respect-based communication,” he said.

Karasin also said Russia would not remove visa-regime with Georgia in the near future.

In response, Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili said Georgia and Russia would reach full normalisation of relations when all of Georgia's occupied regions would empty of Russian forces.

The PM stressed that Georgia took steps to reduce risks of confrontation between the two nations, but Georgia would not make steps towards the normalisation of relations with Russia at the expense of Georgia’s foreign course or territorial integrity.

In December 2000, Russia introduced a visa regime with Georgia and in 2006 it carried out mass deportation of Georgians from Russia.

After the Russia-Georgia war in 2008, Georgian citizens were only awarded a visa to travel to Russia if they had been invited by very close relatives.

Georgia’s former government annulled visas for Russian tourists in 2011, though Russia maintained its complicated procedures until now.

In December 2015, Russian Foreign Ministry said it was "determined” to continue to take steps to alleviate the conditions of communication between the citizens of the two nations.