15 Oct 2019 13:30

Duma conditions resumption of air traffic on Georgian president's apology

MOSCOW. Oct 15 (Interfax) - State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin insists that Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili apologize to Russia and its people before the sides discuss restoration of bilateral relations to the former level.

"As regards air travel, this is a point of the minimum program. State Duma deputies, who represent the Russian people, want both clarity and justice to be restored in those issues," Volodin said at a meeting with the Swiss Federal Assembly's Council of States President Jean-Rene Fournier on Tuesday.

Fournier said that Russia's ban on direct flights to and from Georgia was harming the Georgian economy and that there were "side-effects from this restriction."

In order to fix the situation, "first of all, the Georgian president must apologize to Russian citizens and our country, because in this case it was the Georgian administration that was responsible for holding the meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy and for the incident that followed," Volodin said.

The State Duma "called for doing more than merely canceling flights," Volodin said. "We insisted that our country ban imports of Georgian wine. We also think that money transfers to Georgia should be prohibited, yet President [Vladimir Putin] has given them a chance. He gave Georgia, the people of Georgia, a chance to fix the situation. The only thing that remained was the flight ban," he said.

"This is the least painful, minimal measure on the list," Volodin said.

"Just imagine what would happen if a quarter of all dollars invested in the economy stopped coming in," he said.

Volodin recommended that Georgian politicians intensify their dialogue with Russia, disavow earlier statements, and do their best to restore relations to the former level.