28 Jun 2019 21:58

Tbilisi riots had adverse effect on Georgian economy - Finance Ministry

TBILISI. June 28 (Interfax) - Georgian Finance Minister Ivane Machavariani has criticized the aggressive reaction of the country's opposition representatives towards a Russian Duma deputy, Sergei Gavrilov, on June 20, which later escalated into mass riots in Tbilisi, souring the relations with Russia.

"On June 20, the [Interparliamentary Assembly for Orthodoxy] meeting in parliament ended just after several minutes. This man flew away. No one will accuse me of somehow sympathizing with this man, but that physical touching, that hurling of something was not a healthy story," Machavariani was quoted by the local media as saying.

There are no written rules on how to treat a guest, he said. "We have our face, our principles, and at any rate we must behave with dignity," Machavariani said.

The June 20-21 disturbances also had a negative impact on national economy, he said. "I am urging everyone not to bring our country to such a risk every time," Machavariani said.

"How often has this happened? Haven't we been here before? (...) Everyone should stop," the minister said.

On June 20, Georgian opposition staged a protest action against the visit of a Russian parliamentary delegation to Georgia for a session of the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy. Russian State Duma member Sergei Gavrilov is the president of the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy.

The assembly's session took place at the Georgian parliament, and Gavrilov took the speaker's seat in line with the procedure, which outraged the Georgian opposition.

Protesters, some of them chanting anti-Russian slogans, attempted to storm the parliament but were rebuffed by law enforcement agencies. Police used acoustic guns, tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets against rioters. According to the Georgian Health Ministry, 240 people, including journalists, were injured in the clashes.

Russia treated the riots in Tbilisi and manifestations of Russophobia negatively. The Russian Foreign Ministry advised Russian citizens not to travel to Georgia for personal security reasons.

On June 21, Putin signed a decree imposing starting from July 8 a temporary ban for Russian airlines on flights from Russian to Georgia. Tourist companies were recommended not to sell tours to Georgia.

On July 24, the Russian consumer rights watchdog, Rospotrebnadzor, announced tougher control over Georgian wines and other spirits imported to Russia.