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Visa free regime to Russia for Georgians not easy

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, February 13
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov states that due to Georgia and Russia having no diplomatic relations, it is impossible to implement a Russia-Georgia visa liberalization programme, as happened between Georgia and the EU.

“Georgia abolished the visa regime not only for Russians but for the citizens of up to 100 countries. This was unilateral in most cases. This is a usual practice for those countries that want to attract tourists,” Lavrov said, as Georgia allows citizens of Russia to enter Georgia visa free.

“But in the modern world, where terrorist and other threats are rapidly increasing, the principle of automatic exchange must not be applied,” Lavrov added.

The Russian diplomat gave the example of EU citizens being granted visa-free travel to Georgia in 2006, with Brussels only agreeing on stating negotiations on visa liberalization for Georgians in 2012.

“While Georgia and Russia have no diplomatic relations, it is impossible to implement large-scale contacts for Russia-Georgia visa liberalization. However, President Vladimir Putin has declared that it has not been ruled out to establish visa-free travel for Georgian citizens on a bilateral basis,” he said.

He stated Russia is open to develop these issues together.

“As a reminder, we significantly the rules for Georgians to enter Russia in 2015…now we are working on visa regime to become less complicated for plane crews too,” Lavrov said.

In December 2000, Russia introduced a visa regime with Georgia, and in 2006 it carried out a mass deportation of Georgians from Russia. Several cases are in the European Court which confirms human rights violations by Russians against Georgian nationals.

After the Russia-Georgia war in 2008, Georgian citizens were only granted 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.